Macedonia Town Planting 5,000 Roses to Clean Up Toxic Soil

Have toxic soil? Plant some roses. That’s what residents of a town in Macedonia have been advised to do since the lead and zinc mill that contaminated their soil isn’t doing anything to clean it up. Jess Leber of writes:

For 30 years, nothing has come up roses for a Macedonia town suffering extreme soil pollution.

That’s about to change. Residents of Veles are very literally sick of waiting for the old lead and zinc mill to take responsibility for the toxic heavy metal contamination, or for their government to aid them. Instead, they are taking matters into their own hands…or more accurately, into their own shovels.

At the advice of agricultural researchers, the town will plant 5,000 roses to combat all of the nastiness in their soil—this exceeds heavy metal safety limits by seven times. The hope is that the rosy root systems will process some contamination, leaving less for children to ingest when they play outdoors. It’s a unique and lovely remedy to an “alarming” situation, and certainly one that’s good for the public space.

Unfortunately, the roses aren’t really a permanent or completely adequate solution to the problem, and the macro issue of bad contamination and toxic waste laws lingers. The citizens are trying to get those changed, but we all know how difficult that can be.

As Jess writes, even in the US, we still have such problems: “25 percent of Americans live within three miles of a contaminated waste site, and EPA had identified more than 47,000 of them potentially requiring cleanup. By 2007, it had classified 1,569 of the worst as national priorities.”

Good luck to these residents of Macedonia, and to residents of the U.S. living near toxic waste.

Photo Credit: EssjayNZ via flickr under a CC license

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