Healthier future for Slovene kindergarten children
Norway contributes to Idrija’s effort to safeguard its children and teachers from cancerous pollution risk stemming from the Slovenian town’s 500-year quicksilver mining tradition.
The small Slovenian town of Idrija, crammed between mountains and the upper river basin of the Idrija river, is situated on top of one of the world's largest mercury mines. The mine has served as its economic cornerstone for some 500 years, but now the quicksilver beneath their feet has become a source of fear for Idrija's inhabitants. Young people are fleeing to avoid the effects of toxic pollution from the mine that has seen the risk of lung cancer for the 12,000 inhabitants rise to five times that of the rest of Slovenia.
Like many of the buildings in Idrija, the nursery school is built with mining remains from the vast array of tunnels beneath the city, and health concerns rose when high doses of radon radiation were discovered in the city’s nursery school.
A long and difficult battle followed to find support to build a new and radon-free nursery school, until the municipality was awarded a €1.3 million grant from Norway Grants in October 2006.
“For many years the kindergarten staff started the day with opening all the windows to let out the radon gas that had gathered during the night,” said Maja Majnik, responsible for public actives in the Idrija municipality. Earlier attempts to prevent the gas from seeping up through the floor had all been a failure, and the mental strain of sending the children to a radioactive kindergarten finally lead the municipality to evacuate the building. “We placed the children in the nearby school, where they don’t have much space but at least are safe.”
Since the town is situated in a narrow valley, the nursery school will be situated on its previous location. The close to €2 million project, in which 85 percent of the funding comes from Norway, includes the laying of a complete new foundation under the building to prevent the radioactive radon gas from posing any risk to the health of the children in Idrija.
Demolition and reconstruction of the existing nursery school , due to excessive radon radiation
Health and childcare
Type & project assistance:
The Municipality of Idrija
Type of institution:
Grant agreement date:
23 February 2007
The objective of the Project is to reduce risk of lung cancer for children and employees at the Arkova street branch of the Idrija municipal nursery school by establishing a healthy environment. Reference is made to application dated 27 February 2006 by the Municipality of Idrija.
The Project includes the demolition of the existing building, the replacement of the top layer of radiating ash with gravel and the construction of a new and larger nursery school meeting new standards for space etc. and including an active radon mitigation system as described in the application. The Project includes construction of common facilities (kitchen) and other co-ordination with another nursery school also owned and operated by the Project Promoter.
For this Project, The Municipality of Idrija is the Project Promoter.
The Project Promoter shall provide at least 15 percent of the estimated eligible cost.