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Caretaker Bulgarian president conceals ecological disaster in the Black Sea

There is criminal inaction and incompetence in Bulgaria, citizens and the media do the work of the government. A ship transporting nitrogen fertilisers Vera SU stuck on rocks off Bulgarian Black Sea coast on 20. September, not far from Kavarna. The vessel is under the Panamanian flag and sailed from Ukraine to the Bulgarian port of Varna. Check up in the Equasis system indicates that it is owned and managed by based in Turkey companies. According to experts, the most likely cause of the accident was human error.   

No casualties have occurred among the crew, which consists of Turkish and Georgian citizens. There is no fuel or waste spill in conjunction with the incident, according to the initial information of the Bulgarian authorities. The ship was guarded by Border Police and it was closely examined the crew not to leave. And there was nothing to suggest that such an incident could show the emasculation of the Bulgarian caretaker government, appointed by President Rumen Radev. Whether due to incompetence or simple negligence, for days no one paid attention to the cargo ship loaded with nitrogen fertilisers stranded off the shores of the National Archaeological Reserve Yailata.

Even as early as 21 September, it was known that there were holes in the hull of the vessel, and there were 20 tons of fuel and 3 000 tons of nitrogen fertiliser – carbamide on board. But the institutions only announced that the ship was in stable condition and there was no danger of fuel spill. Everyone was silent about the spill of nitrogen fertilisers in the sea, while fishermen and locals were worried about an environmental disaster. However, no ministry took any action. Instead of unshipping it, they tied it with ropes to the nearby rock to strengthen it.



The civil eco-association “Let’s Save Coral” published photos, which clearly showed that the ship had several holes, from which there was a spill. Probably large part of the cargo fell into the sea, environmentalists suggest. They never received any responses by the state authorities. The answers were given by a citizen – the former military diver, owner of a diving school, Nayden Nedev. Five days after the incident, he made an inspection independently from the institutions. And he alarmed: fertilisers are leaking into the sea. He even suggested how the unload the ship through mobile boats.

Nedev’s findings were released by the media. It became clear that despite assurances from the caretaker government that everything was under control, there was a spill. And namely spill of the most concentrated nitrogen fertilisers.

The Ministry of Environment and Water transferred the responsibility to the shipowner and the insurer, and Minister Assen Lichev assured that the sea water does not deviate from the norms. Pressed by media publications and public pressure, it was only on the sixth day that Transport Minister Hristo Alexiev signed an order for state structures to begin “immediate actions to release the stranded ship Vera SU”.


Although the owners of 53 fishing vessels from the Black Sea Sunrise Association have declared their willingness to participate in the operation of unloading and drawing out the cargo ship “Vera Su”, the caretaker government has created enormous scandal.

And it would have remained hidden, and the Black Sea “fed” with 3 000 tons of carbamide, if there was not the camera of one media – On the night of 27 September, the fertiliser overload began. Livestreaming on Facebook of the media showed how in fact at least 40% of the cargo was dumped into the sea. The video went viral on social media and other medias, and apparent incompetence forced the caretaker government to seek justification. A scapegoat was found in the person of the director of the Maritime Administration, Captain Zhivko Petrov. The transport minister even suspected sabotage, but assured that several action plans had been prepared and the rescue of the ship had been ensured. And the ministries have started waiting for a “window” in which the weather will allow them to implement them, but there has not been such window up to this day.

Until now, the government of Bulgarian president Rumen Radev has not even sought assistance from the European institutions. At the same time, he makes meaningless statements, briefings and vain assurances. Interdepartmental meetings set out measures to release the stranded ship. Meanwhile, Bulgarian authorities have restricted access to the reserve area for media and visitors so that no one has visual access to the ship.

18 days after it ran aground off the shores of the nature reserve, the ship has visibly begun to sink. While the Minister of Transport was justifying himself with European law, he still had to admit that the condition of “VERA SU” was critical and the vessel was sinking. The Minister of Ecology continues to assure that there is no danger of pollution, even if all the cargo goes to sea.

Denitsa Sacheva, former Minister of Labour and Social Policy and deputy of GERB in the 45th and 46th National Assembly, alerted about the problem and the inaction of the institutions in the first days. „In the beginning, the cargo from the ship was a threat. Now the Ministry of Environment and Water claims the opposite without a study of the substance. The analysis would take maximum one day. In the end, it will be beneficial for the environment for the ship to sink”, she said. According to her, the lack of the most basic actions is indicative of the level of government not only in this crisis situation, but for the level of governing in general.

The Bulgarian EPP member of the European Parliament Emil Radev asked the European Commission whether the Bulgarian government has activated the Protection Mechanism, which allows to request support in a crisis situation from our partners in the EU.

What will be the fate of the ship and its cargo, what damage will do the sinking of 3 000 tons of carbamide in the Black Sea to the ecosystem, fisheries and tourism in the region, which provide livelihoods for tens of thousands of people – are the questions to which the caretaker government gives no answers so far. Because they will shine the huge crime that the interim government appointed by President Rumen Radev committed against the Black Sea and the people in the region.


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