According to information that Greenpeace managed to verify from several sources, the Polish state-owned company PGE applied for an extension of the mining license at the Turów mine until 2044. This happened again in secret, without informing the Czech government and the public, including local people who will be adversely affected by coal mining. The company thus made intensive efforts to extend mining at the same time as complex negotiations between representatives of the Czech and Polish parties were taking place with the aim of finding a solution to the international dispute.
In the past Czechia has filed an official complaint with the European Commission over the Turów mine, which is a prelude to a lawsuit against Poland. At the end of December 2020, the Commission confirmed that Poland had violated European legislation when expanding the mine towards the Czech border. The application for a permit for further mining until 2044 is again based on the same problematic and illegal processes that the Czech Republic and the European Commission criticize.
Every day, mining at the Turów mine is approaching the Czech border and the problems it is causing are growing, including the loss of water from the Czech territory. According to the head of the Czech Geological Survey, the decline in water in the Czech lands has been huge since the 1980s. According to the Uhelná and Greenpeace Neighborhood Association, an action for the illegal expansion of the mine is therefore already inevitable. From today, people can sign the petition of Greenpeace CR and the Uhelná Neighborhood Association on the website www.spoluproklima.cz/stopturow/, which calls on the Czech government to file a lawsuit against Poland. The action is not directed against Poland as a state or its inhabitants, but against the action of the Polish state-owned company PGE and the local authorities, which allow its actions.
Mining at the Turów mine has been going on illegally since 1 May 2020. PGE first carried out a cross-border EIA (environmental impact assessment) process of mining until 2044, to which Czech opponents sent almost 5,000 comments and on which the Czech government issued a dissenting opinion. Instead of dealing with the criticism and disapproval of the Czech citizens and the Czech government, the Polish mining company applied outside the EIA process for a mining permit for 6 years and received it from the authorities immediately and without public participation. Now PGE and the Polish authorities are seeking the originally requested extension of mining until 2044, although at the same time Poland tried to dissuade the Czech side from filing a lawsuit with the EU Court of Justice, although it is clear that previous Polish authorities decisions violated European laws.
The mine drains groundwater flowing from the Czech territory, which immediately threatens the supply of drinking water for tens of thousands of inhabitants of the Liberec region. The loss of water is also evident in the landscape and its lack will continue to worsen. However, the approaching mining is also causing landslides, excessive noise and air pollution. Expanding coal mining and prolongation also exacerbates the current climate crisis and runs counter to Europe's climate goals.
The nearest Czech villages, Uhelná and Václavice, have been struggling with a lack of groundwater for several years, wells and streams are drying up, and often the whole family cannot take a shower in one day, or families have to choose between washing dishes and personal hygiene. According to a study commissioned by the Liberec Region, the damage to water resources caused by mining at the Turów mine amounts to up to 1.5 billion crowns. On the German side, according to a geological study, there is a risk of a sharp subsistance of soil, which threatens the statics of houses in the adjacent town of Zittau.
Residents of the Czech border are following developments on the Polish side with concern. Therefore, in cooperation with Greenpeace CR, they are organizing a petition to the Czech government to file a lawsuit against Poland with the EU Court of Justice as soon as possible, which can then issue preliminary measures and stop mining at the Turów mine.
Michael Martin, a resident of the border village of Václavice, says:
"PGE's willingness to be a good neighbor was only feigned, and nothing was done about the promised helpful steps on the company part. There is therefore no valid reason to negotiate with someone who is taking steps behind the back of the Czech side to deepen the problems. Let's not get PGE drunk on a croissant. Good cross-border cooperation is desirable, but it does not entitle anyone to subordinate the basic needs of the inhabitants across the border to a ruthless coal society. "
Daniel Gabryš, a resident of the border village Uhelná, says:
Unfortunately PGE and the Polish authorities are constantly pursuing a "flood after us" policy on the relationship between the Turów mine and its surroundings. The company thinks only of its own economic interests. The fact that their industrial area in Turów is overwhelmingly surrounded by the territory of two other EU Member States is clearly absolutely ignored. And they are still trying to suggest to us that once they completely plunder their Polish territorial appendix, we will be grateful to them when the mine will definitely flood with our water. Long live demagoguery. And the flood after us! ”
Milan Starec, a resident of the border village Uhelná, says:
"The effort to extend mining until 2044 is another spit of neighborly relations. In general, we understand the efforts of politicians to reach an agreement with Poland. Unfortunately, two are needed for a compromise, and PGE together with the Polish authorities, is showing us only arrogance in its pure form. European law and good neighborly relations are trampling into the country, and we have no choice but to seek protection through the courts. It is a waste of valuable time to continue to negotiate financial compensation, when the Polish side persistently rejects it. "
Nikol Krejčová, leader of the campaign against the Turów mine in Greenpeace, says:
“Coal mining and burning from the Turów mine not only steals groundwater from the Czech territory, but also deepens the current climate crisis and has other negative effects on the environment and human lives. PGE's desire to benefit by 2044 absolutely does not take this into account. The demand to sue Poland is thus primarily an effort to achieve justice. "
Press release of the Neighborhood Association Uhelná and Greenpeace CR.
Photo: Polish Ministry of the Environment, Adrian Grycuk, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Poland