Turkish Driver Gets Probation for Toxic Spill in Bulgaria

Crime | September 2, 2011, Friday // 09:58|  views

In July, firefighters and the Civil Defense team worked for 18 hours to secure and remove the overturned Turkish cistern. Photo by BGNES

The Regional Court in the central Bulgarian city of Veliko Tarnovo has issued a suspended sentence and three years of probation to the Turkish driver, who causes a toxic spill in July.

Yumer Var, 45, is also fined BGN 5 000.

The rule came after a plea bargain between Var and the Prosecutor's Office in Veliko Tarnovo where the driver pleaded guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence. The rule is final and cannot be appealed.

Var was charged on two counts - polluting the environment and transporting hazardous substances without a permit in the causing of an accident on July 11 near the town of Debelets in the Veliko Tarnovo area.

The incident happened when a Turkish cistern truck transporting amounts of a dangerous chemical rolled over, triggering the evacuation of 2 200 residents of Debelets, including 51 toddlers and babies.

Over 4 tons of styrene, which is used to make plastic, were spilled and a toxic cloud was formed.

The Regional Governor declared an emergency situation in the town.

The driver was arrested and was kept behind bars for 24 hours. Upon expiration of the 24 hours, his ID documents were taken away on the order of the Prosecutor's Office and under the Foreign Citizens Act, so that he couldn't leave the country before the end of the investigation.

A probe of the Bulgarian Automobile Inspection, DAI, revealed Var did not own a certificate allowing him to transport hazardous substances.

The probe further showed the cistern did not have signs it contains such substances while the driver did not have a break in the last 24 hours before the incident.

According to the indictment, the spill polluted the soil and the waters of the Belitsa River. Firefighters and the Civil Defense team worked for 18 hours to secure and remove the overturned Turkish cistern. The cost of the operation is estimated at BGN 28 000.

Var was fined in the amount of BGN 8 000 while DAI fined the Istanbul-based carrier company "Tap Ted Global Logistics" with BGN 5 000.

Bulgaria will also claim from the company compensations in the amount of the cost of the operation.

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Tags: suspended sentence, Yumer Var, certificate, driver, Turkish, styrene, debelets, evacuation, chemical, cistern truck, polluting, Belitza River, Yumer Var, charges, indictment, fined, Veliko Tarnovo, Regional Court, plea bargain


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