30 August 2020
Kayak protest highlights Turów coal mine violations
Turów, 30 August 2020 – Local citizens and people from across Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic are kayaking to the Turów mine today, in protest of the failure of their governments and EU institutions to uphold laws protecting them and their water from the mining and burning of coal.
The controversial Turów coal operation occupies a small spit of Polish land surrounded by Germany and the Czech Republic. The mine pushes hard up against each country’s border, draining water resources and leaving entire villages dry. Its expansion is incompatible with the Water Framework Directive (WFD), as it would cause inadmissible deterioration of water bodies. Groups from the Liberec region argued it also violates the Environmental Liability Directive, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive, and the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Directive in a recent joint statement to the European Commission (1).
“We have laws to defend people’s basic rights to fresh air, clean water, and a safe climate from company greed and exploitative politics, but when these laws are not enforced then people have to stand up for their rights,” said Kuba Gogolewski, Project Coordinator at Fundacja ”Rozwój TAK – Odkrywki NIE”. “We’re here today to protect our health and climate, and to call on the European Commission to step up, as a supranational guardian of EU treaties, and enforce the laws undermined by this transnational water grab at Turów.”
“PGE responds to our worries about our water by telling us there is no connection between its mining and our water and that we should blame the decline of groundwater on climate change,” said Milan Starec, resident of the Uhelna village which is already suffering from water shortages. “PGE is delusional if it thinks its mine is not impacting surrounding water supplies, and in any case its coal business is driving climate change. It cannot ignore its responsibility.”
The mine is currently operating under a six-year licence extension, obtained without public participation or a proper environmental impact assessment. This means it has worked illegally since May 2020, and Poland’s state-owned utility PGE is threatening to further expand and re-licence it, keeping it online until 2044. If this happens, thousands of people may lose access to water, while many more in the Czech-Polish-German region Neisse-Nisa-Nysa are put at risk of premature death and respiratory illness from the coal that is burned.
“It’s time for opencast coal mining in Turów, which stands for an age that is actually already over, to come to an end,” said Anna Cavazzini, MEP, The Greens/EFA. “The political framework is in place: the Paris Climate Agreement and the European Green Deal demand an exit from coal. The money is there. The European Just Transition Fund is being used precisely for this purpose: to support coal regions on their way into the future. It’s time to move forward together.”
Greg McNevin, Communications Director, Europe Beyond Coal
[email protected], +49 1605 247 857 (English)
Luboš Pavlovič, Media officer, GP Czech Republic:, [email protected]
+420 773291850 (Czech)
Kuba Gogolewski, Project Coordinator and Senior Finance Campaigner, Fundacja “Rozwój TAK – Odkrywki NIE”, +48 661 862 611, [email protected] (Polish, English)
Kerstin Doerenbruch, Greenpeace Germany, +49 163 614 1395, [email protected] (German, English)
1) Joint Statement from civil society groups to the European Commission: Europe and Poland must stop Turów’s negative impacts and bring water and climate justice: https://bit.ly/2G6FH2H
2) Kayak protest event details and invitation: https://bit.ly/3gCWjeO
Photos and video from the activities will be available shortly after each leg of the event. Find them here: https://bit.ly/2EpFes4
Europe Beyond Coal is an alliance of civil society groups working to catalyse the closures of coal mines and power plants, prevent the building of any new coal projects and hasten the just transition to clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency. Our groups are devoting their time, energy and resources to this independent campaign to make Europe coal free by 2030 or sooner. www.beyond-coal.eu