10 October 2022

Flawed Turów coal mine assessment gets green light

WARSAW, 10 OCTOBER 2022 – Poland’s General Director for Environmental Protection waved through an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the country’s Turów coal mine this past Friday, despite expert analysis showing the EIA severely underestimates the amount of groundwater the mine is draining. The decision brings a step closer the possibility of Turów’s owner, PGE, gaining a licence extension for the mine to 2044. 

The decision comes despite the European Commission [1] previously stating that Polish authorities violated EU law when conducting the EIA because they didn’t carry out a proper public consultation. The mine, which is located close to the Czech and German borders, had been the focus of a Czechia-Poland lawsuit at the Court of Justice of the European Union [2]. However, the two countries agreed a 45 million euro compensation deal for Czechia before the court could pass its ruling [3]. The settlement has angered local people who say expert analysis shows the plan for restoring water supplies will not work [4].

Poland’s General Director for Environmental Protection knows very well that water levels in the region have already declined more than twice the amount that the Environmental Impact Assessment says they will by 2044. In other words, the EIA isn’t worth the paper it’s written on and should be redone,” said Petra Kalenská, lawyer at Frank Bold Society. “Local people were promised that the deal struck between the Czech and Polish governments would ensure that their water supplies are restored, not further depleted. The Czech government is essentially agreeing to EU law being breached on its territory.” 

This is the second time that Polish authorities have sought to push through this EIA in total disregard to objections filed by citizen groups from all three affected countries. A Polish court stepped in to halt the process last time around. What happens if the same doesn’t happen on this occasion? Who’s going to uphold EU law then?” said Kerstin Doerenbruch at Greenpeace Berlin.

Turów continues to drain local people’s water supplies and damage their houses. The fact that this EIA doesn’t properly consider either reality, or incorporate the views of local people is wholly unacceptable and unlawful. We will be taking the issue to court on the basis of these numerous breaches of law,” said Agnieszka Stupkiewicz, attorney at law at Fundacja Frank Bold.

ENDS

Contacts:

Alastair Clewer, Senior Communications Manager, Europe Beyond Coal                                                                            [email protected], +49 176 433 07 185

Petra Kalenská, lawyer at Frank Bold Society
[email protected]

Kerstin Doerenbruch, press spokeswoman at Greenpeace Berlin
[email protected], +49 163 614 1395 

Agnieszka Stupkiewicz, attorney at law at Fundacja Frank Bold
[email protected], + 48 530 007 547

Notes:

  1. https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_2452
  2. https://beyond-coal.eu/2022/02/03/advisor-to-eu-court-says-poland-infringed-eu-law-when-extending-licence-for-Turów-mine-europe-beyond-coal/
  3. https://beyond-coal.eu/2022/02/03/czechia-poland-Turów-coal-mine-deal-leaves-czech-locals-thirsty-for-justice/
  4. The main water protection measure contained within the agreement between the Czech and Polish government is an underground wall, which is currently under construction. Experts at T. G. Masaryk Water Research Institute and the Polish ambassador to Czechia, Mirosław Jasiński say it is insufficient to secure supplies. This view was effectively confirmed in a leaked PGE document obtained by environmental organisations: https://www.seznamzpravy.cz/clanek/audio-podcast-ptam-se-ja-pozar-uhasen-co-bude-dal-s-parkem-ceske-svycarsko-odpovida-ministryne-211672
  5. In February this year, a Polish court ruled that Polish authorities rushed the EIA process for Turów and that local citizen groups were denied their right, under EU law, to comment on the plans: https://beyond-coal.eu/2022/02/01/polish-court-ruling-curbs-pges-plan-to-mine-at-Turów-until-2044/
  6. The EIA estimates that groundwaters in the region will decline by between 3-15 metres by 2044 as a consequence of operations at the mine. However, a study shows that groundwater levels in the region have already declined by more than 8-34 metres today. Study: TGM Water Research Institute. Venera Z. et al. (May 2021): Evolution of groundwater levels in the Hradec Králové Basin – Czech Geological Survey, Prague. 
  7. More on the approval of the original EIA and Polish authorities’ decision to declare it immediately enforceable: https://beyond-coal.eu/2020/01/28/polish-authorities-ignore-german-submissions-and-approve-Turów-mine-expansion-permit/
  8. Studies show that Poland’s electricity grid can accommodate a temporary halt to mining at Turów, and can function without it long-term from 2026. A renewables-based alternative would create more jobs and would produce the same amount of electricity in the next 25 years and cost €14 billion less.
    https://czyzak.net/polish-power-system-without-Turów/
    http://instrat.pl/en/coal-phase-out/
    https://kike.org.pl/strategia-transformacji-elektrowni-i-kopalni-w-Turówie-raport-kike/

About: 

Europe Beyond Coal is an alliance of civil society groups working to ensure a just transition to a fossil-free, fully renewables-based European energy sector. This means exiting coal entirely by 2030 at the latest, and fossil gas by 2035 in the power sector. This independent campaign is committed to transforming the European energy system so that it protects people, nature and our global climate: www.beyond-coal.eu

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