Poland keeps the lignite mine open despite a European court ruling | abroad

Poland has no plans to close its Turow lignite mine near the border with the Czech Republic. Last Friday, the European Court of Justice ruled that the mine should be closed because it would contaminate the Czech groundwater, thus having an impact on the environment and public health. “We do not accept the decision because it may endanger the energy supply in Poland,” Prime Minister Matthews Murawiecki said on Monday.

Warsaw pledges to enter into dialogue with the Czech Republic, and will provide the court in Luxembourg with new arguments. The neighboring country went to the European Court because the Polish government extended Toro’s permit until 2026. According to Prague, the extension of the concession violated several European rules.

The open-air mine, which has been operating since 1904, has a negative impact on the environment in the border areas. Residents complain about noise, dust and lack of water. The lignite mine is responsible for about 7 percent of Poland’s electricity supply. The operator PGE wants to mine lignite there until 2044, and also wants to expand it from 25 to 30 square kilometers.

The final ruling is still pending, but the vice-president of the European Union Court decided on Friday that Poland should immediately stop mining lignite in Toro. According to Rosario Silva de La Puerta, it cannot be excluded that the mine activities have a direct negative impact on groundwater in the Czech region. Turow uses Czech water in installations, which affects the groundwater level and, accordingly, the population. In addition, the exploitation may harm the Czech environment and human health. Since both the underground water shortage and damage to the environment and health are seldom reversible, the court found the case urgent enough to enforce the lockdown immediately.

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According to Warsaw, the closure of the lignite mine would lead to the immediate shutdown of the adjacent power plant. But Poland has not sufficiently demonstrated that this would jeopardize supplies, according to the European Court of Justice. Moreover, the social and economic damages caused by Poland as a result of the closure of the brown coal mine, such as the loss of jobs, are in principle irreparable, and the court still rules, while the damage to the environment and health may be so.

Denton Watson

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