Businessman Vlado Momirovski, who runs the company which had a major accident while removing hazardous chemical waste from the OHIS plant, assures the public that there is no danger to the lives and the health of the citizens living near the plant.

It is finished, there is no danger, nobody is hurt. Everything is collected in special barrels and is ready for export. We fixed the valve, my employees have already withdrawn. The water which spilled over contained just small amounts of the chemical, and it flowed into a protective concrete pool, Momirovski said.

Citizens living in the densely populated areas near the now largely defunct OHIS plant were panicked today after acrid fumes began to spread from the factory grounds. Momirovski’s Eko Centar 97 company was collecting methyl acrylate from one of the many tanks that store forgotten chemicals once used to produce textile, detergent and other OHIS products. After OHIS went under with the fall of Communism, much of the stockpiled chemicals were left to eat away at their tanks and spill into the ground, and in some cases they are loaded up and exported or destroyed.

In this case, the methyl acrylate from the tank was loaded for Switzerland, and Momirovski’s workers were washing the tank, when a valve broke and tons of water, mixed with the chemical, flowed out. The compound is very toxic and has a strong smell which causes pain while breathing. Families living near the factory reported leaving en masse to protect themselves while a special army unit was sent to examine what is happening. Environmentalists are calling for criminal charges and hefty fines for the company.