STA, 5 July 2019 - The city councils of all four coastal municipalities have urged authorities to present them within a month a timeline of activities to find a new, safe water source for Slovenian Istria.
Koper, Piran, Izola and Ankaran councillors met on Friday after almost 11,000 litres of kerosene spilled as a train derailed in a tunnel on the Koper-bound railway near Hrastovlje, south-west.
The spill is a threat to the Rižana water source, the only source of drinking water for Slovenia's coast. The greatest threat is heavy rain, which could make kerosene penetrate further into the soil and underground water.
The councillors are worried the state cannot guarantee the coast the constitutionally guaranteed right to drinking water if the Rižana source is contaminated.
They thus demand that all the necessary measures are taken and implemented to prevent the pollution of the only water source for Slovenian Istria.
Supervision of the state in which railway and road infrastructure is in water areas, should be enhanced, the councillors decided.
The railway infrastructure in water areas should be maintained and modernised to avoid any problems with the rail tracks.
The authorities should also make sure that trains carrying dangerous cargo in water areas run at adequate speeds.
Finally, the state should take measures to minimise risks for similar incidents.
If these measures cannot be guaranteed, then the option should be studied to ban transport of dangerous substances through water areas until a new water source is found.
The councillors also tasked the mayors to prioritise efforts to find a new water source and expressed support for the state's efforts to build the second rail track between Koper and Divača.
The session, which Koper Mayor Aleš Bržan labelled "Istrian parliament", was also attended by government representatives.
Environment and Spatial Planning Minister Somin Zajc promised serious efforts would be made to find a new water source, announcing a meeting with Istrian mayors at the ministry's water directorate for next week.
Several possible water sources have been proposed in the past, so it is clear which ones could be suitable, but they will have to be studied again, he said.
While he could not give any detailed timeline, he said "we're probably not talking weeks or months, but a year or two".
To further protect the Rižana water source from kerosene pollution, a special protective foil was laid in the Hrastovlje tunnel on Wednesday after much of the contaminated material was removed earlier.
All our stories on water quality in Slovenia are here