UPDATE 10 AM: I have now learned that it was a contractor hired by The Expendables crew to trim the shrubbery in front of Bulgaria’s Devetashka Cave that was fined and not the production itself. As for the movie’s producers, I hear they are taking the environmental concerns seriously and met today with representatives of local environmental organizations. Word is that the sequel has gotten their blessing to start filming at the cave and the shoot is not expected to harm the bat colony living inside.
PREVIOUS 1AM: Following a fatal accident during the filming of a stunt last month, the production of The Expendables 2 has once again run afoul of authorities in Bulgaria, this time over damages to a cave that has a status of a natural monument. Bulgaria’s environmental protection agency has fined the Hollywood production for unlawfully removing shrubs and small trees from the entrance to the local Devetashka Cave, according to Bulgarian news reports. The size of the fine is yet to be determined and will be in the 500-5,000 BG Leva range ($343-$3,440). Despite obtaining necessary permits for the elaborate shoot that involves building sets — including a bridge to the cave — the production is raising concerns among local environmentalists who fear that it may permanently damage the habitat that houses some 40 endangered species as well as one of the top three bat colonies in Europe. To avoid disturbing the bats, the producers have promised to refrain from explosions, car chases and fires in close proximity to the cave.