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We cannot forget that the Turów Dispute is about water!

Polish National Coalition „Development YES - Open Pit Mines NO" submitted comments to the draft of the second update of the International Oder River District. It emphasizes that in order to meet the requirements of the Water Framework Directive, an EU law designed to protect water, Turów should cease operations by 2027 at the latest. 

The dispute over the Turów open cast mine’s operations has flared up again as a result of the fine imposed on Poland by the CJEU on 20 September. It is worth recalling that the conflict around the Turów open cast mine arose due to problems that residents of border towns in the Czech Republic have with access to water. Due to Turów’s operations, drinking water intakes have begun to dry up, and further expansion of the open pit could result in a complete lack of water access for local residents. 

“The Czech Republic is the third least water-stressed EU member state. Those resources will shrink because of the intensification of the climate crisis, disrupting the hydrological cycle as well. No wonder the Czechs are fighting like lions for groundwater resources on the Czechs side of the border,” comments Kuba Goglewski, project coordinator at the Polish National Coalition „Development YES - Open Pit Mines NO", “Water shortages are one of the main topics of public debate in the Czech Republic. It is difficult to expect that the government there will stop defending a virtually non-renewable resource on which the life and health of citizens depend. What matters is not only Turów’s impact on groundwater on the Czech side in 2021, but also throughout the operation of the open pit and after its completion. In contrast to the PiS and PGE governments, who are focused on the here and now, the Czechs want to minimize the impact of open pit mining for decades to come.”

Foundation "DY-OPMN" sees the public consultation of the IIaPGW project for International Oder River District, which ended on September 22, as an important opportunity to take effective international action to address the problem of lowering groundwater levels caused by the exploitation of the Turów lignite deposit at the Polish lignite mine.

Comments on the project were submitted simultaneously by the RT-ON Foundation and NGOs from the Czech Republic and Germany. They pointed out, among others, that the draft IIaPGW for MODO must describe in detail the negative impacts of the Turów mine on waters not only in the Czech Republic, but also in Poland and Germany.

The organizations also presented proposals for actions to mitigate the negative impact of the Turów coal mine on the International Oder River District.

“Apparently, it seems to the Polish institutions that granting a derogation, i.e., mitigating the groundwater protection goals in the Turów area, takes care of the whole problem, but it’s not. In accordance with the Water Framework Directive, granting such a derogation must not allow further deterioration of water status, which will occur if the Turów mine continues to operate,” - comments Katarzyna Czupryniak, water campaign coordinator at the Polish National Coalition „Development YES - Open Pit Mines NO", “According to the law, but also to ordinary human responsibility for the consequences of their actions, the Polish side has to do everything technically possible to limit further drainage of aquifers around the open pit. The Czech and German sides should also be involved in planning these actions and monitoring their effects.”

“The second necessary step is to close the mine by 2027, which must be prepared now. Otherwise, Turów will be in breach of the Water Framework Directive and no tricks by Polish institutions will hide that fact," adds Czupryniak.

Foto: Ibra Ibrahimovic, https://www.waterorcoal.org/

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Our organizations jointly counteract the expansion of the open-cast Turów lignite mine in Poland for the benefit of local communities, nature and climate. We support civic activities undertaken by the international community at the interface of the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland. We strive to make the lignite-dependent Bogatynia enter the path of energy transition as well as economic and social transformation.

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