Poland still won’t admit that Turów impacts groundwater in the neighbour countries. In Czechia, the issue has gained rapid pace and it is already being processed on the governmental level. For the first time, Turów has also been discussed by MPs from two regions where the opencast isn’t located: the German Brandenburg and the Lubush Voivedeship. Turów will be debated, among others, in the context of the impact of the complex on the international Odra river basin.
1. Will the Czechs sue Poland to the Court of Justice?
Last week, long before it had been planned, the issue of Turów was addressed by the government of Andrej Babiš. Earlier, the problems of lack of drinking water in the Liberec region provoked by the activity of the Turów opencast was analyzed on the local, regional and ministerial level.
“The cabinet of Andrej Babiš has obliged its ministers of environment Richard Brabec and of foreign affairs Tomáš Petříčk to present another proposals. It is even being considered to sue our country to the EU Court of Justice” – we read in Puls Biznesu.
The Czech agency press ČTK informed that “basically Poland wasn't communicating with the Czechs and wasn't providing information nor documents they were asking” and "were not complying with the procedures established in the EU law.” Due to the lack of cooperation on the Polish side and the continuing denial of the impact of the Turów complex on the water status in Czechia, our neighbours decided to take more radical measures. It’s not surprising, given that yet in July, during the meeting of the Committee on Petitions, Polish MEPs, Anna Zalewska and Kosma Złotkowski stated that Turów had no impact on the water status in the region, the problem was imaginary and the continued exploitation didn’t go against the goals of Paris Agreement.
2. Delay in the construction of the Turów mine unit
The construction of a new lignite unit in Turów plant may be delayed. The contractor has proposed to delay the date of the handover for exploitation for 6 months. The new proposed date is April 30, 2021.
The power of the lignite unit will be 496 MW. The contractors are Mitsubishi Hitachi Power System, Tecnicas Reunidas and Budimex, acting as a consortium. Until now, nearly 3,5 million PLN have been spent on the investment.
“The offer [...] will be analyzed in detail regarding the methodical correctness, workability of the assumptions, causes of the delay and planned methods of the future management of the project execution” – indicated PGE in its communication. The representatives added that they didn't rule out contractual penalties.
In July, deputy prime minister and minister of national assets, Jacek Sain, talked about the possibility of the delay of the construction due to the pandemic.
3. Protests in Prague
Environmental activists marched through Prague, criticizing the actions of the Czech government regarding the protection of the environment and preventing climate crises. One of the issues raised by the activists was the Turów mine expansion. According to the organizers, the past actions of the government regarding the protection and reconstruction of the Czech landscape and solution to the climate crises are insufficient and the speakers called for state’s more decisive actions.
4. Polish-German meeting in Słubice
On the 4th of August, in the office of an MP, Tomas Aniśko, in Słubice, took place a meeting with the participation of Polish NGOs and German Green Party Bündnis90/Die Grünen.
During the meeting, the participants discussed, among others, the problems with the Turów plant and mine, as well as economical, social and legal situation regarding the complex’s activity.
For the first time, Turów was discussed by the MPs from two regions in which the opencast isn’t located: the German Brandenburg and the Lubush Voivedeship. Turów will be discussed, among others, in the context of the impact of the complex on the international Odra river basin.
Kuba Gogolewski from the Foundation Development YES Open Pit Mines NO comments: it is also worth stressing that the Turów issue will be soon addressed by the International Commission for the Protection of the Odra River (MKOO), which takes a unanimous vote and its members are: representatives of Czechia, Poland and Germany. The Foundation Development YES Open Pit Mines NO, Frank Bold Foundation, Client Earth and many other organizations and people from all three countries have presented their comments during the consultations on the crucial problems of the water management led by MKOO. The cross-border influence of Turów mine and plant on water have been especially pointed out, as long as the effects of its planned expansion in the direction of the Czech border and the extension of its activity.
5. International Commission for the Protection of the Odra River will address the issue of Turów
On the 15-16 of September in Wrocław, the first meeting after the summer holidays of the working subgroup “Planning in water management by MKOO (International Commission for the Protection of the Odra River) will take place. The international basin is an area, where a good water status is taken care of by all the states, in which the basin is located: Poland, Germany and Czechia.
The members of the group will face a challenge – they will have to tackle the issue of Turów mine and plant and work out a unanimous position.
The Turów lignite open pin mine located in this area, together with the mines owned by Zespół Elektrowni Pątnów-Adamów-Konin in Greater Poland Voivedeship, Silesian hard coal mines and open pit lignite mines located in the Odra basin in Germany significantly impact the groundwater decline and contamination of surface water in 3 countries of Odra basin. Turów open pit mine has an additional destructive influence on the groundwater resources in Czechia.
NGOs which presented comments during MKOO consultations pointed out that the discussion about the impact of Turów complex on the Odra basin on the national level is insufficient (as it has been done in Poland until now).