A study about the impact of Turów on Saxony's water has not escaped the attention of the public. The whole country realized that the Polish opencast will have destructive effect on the life of the residents of Zittau. It can be expected that now the German side will become more active in the international conflict. Last week, a German delegation of the International Commission for the Protection of the Odra River demanded that the impact of Turów on the Odra River be considered an international issue.
A conference dedicated to the impact of the Turów open-pit mine on the Saxony’s groundwater, which took place on 12 October in Zittau, reverberated in the German media. The issue resonated not only in Saxony, but also in the whole country. It was commented, among others, in the online edition of the Bild, one of the biggest German tabloid newspapers.
Bild has highlighted that the activity of the opencast impacts the groundwater of the region and that it contributes to the land subsidence in Zittau, which leads to the risk of damage to the buildings. It was pointed out that the mayor of Zittau, Thomas Zenker, sent a letter to the Minister-President of Saxony, Michael Kretschemer, “requesting that the study be treated seriously”.
German press also cited Zenker’s other words from the same conference: “I’m calling the authorities of the Free State of Saxony to reassess the risk and, if necessary, to take legal action just as the Czech counterparty did. Past procedures have been unsatisfactory and it is doubtful that UE legal requirements regarding the environmental impact assessment have been fulfilled. We don’t have the right to deprive our neighbors of important income sources overnight. However, the protection of our city and region and its inhabitants must be fully respected”.
The issue was commented by Daniel Gerber, spokesman for energy and climate policy of a parliamentary group in Saxonian parliament and member of the committee for energy, climate protection, environment and agriculture: “The presented study yet again confirms a direct threat coming from the interference in the groundwater. Lowering of groundwater level as a result of brown coal mining in Turów is already leading to measurable subsidence of the ground near Zittau. The study indicates that the center of Zittau is at risk of further ground subsidence, between 36 and 72 centimeters by 2044, should the project be continued. Ground subsidence affects all the buildings in the city center.
The study was also commented by German MEP Anna Cavazzini, who stressed that “the open-pit mine has actually been illegal since May!”
During the meeting of the International Commission for the Protection of the Odra River against Pollution, which took place on 14 October 2020 in Wrocław, a German delegation prompted that the impact of Turów on the Odra be considered an international issue. Polish representatives of the Commission are not sympathetic to such a solution of the problem, however, by 21 October, the whole group will have to work out the compromise.
Admitting that the impact of Turów on the Odra river basin is a transnational issue won't allow the Polish counterparty to further ignore the destructive effects of the mine's activity. In Poland, a lot of issues related to the impact of coal on water isn't treated with due severity. The main problems include: ineffective national law, which doesn’t allow for effective implementation of restrictions in the water use, negative impact of excessive water abstraction and waste water discharge in protected areas and biodiversity, inappropriately, unfoundedly granted waivers from Water Framework Directive, lack of implementation of the principle of water services cost recovery and the polluter pays principle, exemptions from water charges for mines and power plants, insufficient financing of water management and water protection in Poland.
In the meantime, the portal Liberecky Kraj reports that the Czech state-owned company DIAMO is conducting works in the Liberec region. Measurement points will be put in place in order to monitor the impact of the activity of the Polish lignite mine Turów on the Czech side of the border. It will create a monitoring network, which will record the future development of terrain deformation. The project was initiated by the Regional Office of Liberec Region”.
“The combined number of measurement points will amount to 65, most of which are located in the municipality of Hrádek nad Nisou. The work of our experienced employees will contribute to a professional analysis of transborder effects of Turów mine” – comments Ludvík Kašpar, director in a state-owned company DIAMO.