On 3 February this year, the prime ministers of the Czech Republic and Poland signed an agreement on dealing with the impact of mining in the Turów mine.
Poland then paid the Czech Republic 45 million euros (approximately CZK 1.1 billion) in compensation for damage caused by mining, and the Czech Republic withdrew a lawsuit against Poland, which it filed with the Court of Justice of the EU over the mine.
However, both Frank Bold and Greenpeace criticize the agreement, saying it does not protect Czech citizens from water loss.
“By concluding a contract with Poland for further mining in the Turów mine, the Czech Republic is covering up the violation of the law,” Greenpeace said.
Both organizations are convinced that financial compensation will not be enough to pay for the crisis infrastructure that would provide drinking water for citizens on the Czech side of the border.
Even an immediate cessation of mining in the mine would not stop the water loss, according to Židek.
“It has been mined there for a hundred years, and we cannot prove that the impact on the water in the wells is fully caused by the activities of the Turów mine.
This is also the main reason why it does not fully cover the costs of infrastructure.
Part of the problem would probably be, even if it weren’t mined.
For example, in the vicinity of Nové Město pod Smrkem we have a water problem in several municipalities and they are already so far from Turów that it does not affect them, it is really just a climate change,” Židek added.
According to Frank Bold, however, the decision is based on bad data, due to which people on the Czech side of the border will continue to lose water.
Greenpeace is about to sue.
The statement of the Ministry of the Environment .
“It’s nothing we didn’t expect,” Milan Starec of the Uhelná Neighborhood Association told CTK in response to the EIA approval.
“At the moment when it could be influenced in some way, at the moment when we had the European Court on our side, the Czech Republic decided that it was better to have a billion paid and withdraw the lawsuit.
Then it was clear that Poland would allow it,” he added. Mining can take more than 20 years, but Starec hopes that the end of mining will come sooner.
“Even the current owner of PGE is investing massively in renewables, so it may not be worth it to them to run the mine and the power plant for so long,” he added.
Liberec Region Councillor for the Environment Václav Židek (Pirates) does not expect that Greenpeace’s decision to continue suing could change anything now.
“It is, of course, their right to sue if they feel that there has been any wrongdoing, but I don’t think it can change anything at this stage, but I don’t know Polish law that far,” Židek said. But he rejects criticism of the treaty with Poland.
“The agreement is being fulfilled and is moving forward, for example, a wall that will protect municipalities on the Czech side from noise, dust, but also from light from the mine, would probably not be in such parameters without it,” he added.
Residents on the Czech side of the border are worried not only about noise and increased dustiness, but above all about the loss of groundwater and soil subsidence.
Frank Bold claims that Poland’s current EIA permit is based on data from 2015 that speaks of a water drop of three to 15 meters in 2044.
Last year, however, the water level dropped by eight to 34 meters.
According to Frank Bold, the proposal for preventive measures is based on the inadequate old hydrogeological model.
“These are intended to limit the negative impacts of mining and ensure that water does not drain from the Czech territory.
Therefore, an underground barrier designed on the basis of an incorrect hydrogeological model cannot be functional,” she said.
The EIA decision to continue mining has already been issued by the regional authority in the past, but the court annulled it in February this year.
Frank Bold pointed out that without this assessment under the European directive, it is not possible to start or continue mining.
“Poland is thus committing a violation of European law, which is completely unacceptable,” Frank Bold lawyer Petra Kalenská said in a press release today.
Greenpeace also believes that the current mining in Turów is illegal.
Environmentalists say that the EIA management is still in conflict with both European and Polish legislation.
“It has never sufficiently taken into account public comments that pointed to the negative impacts of mining, and the whole process is based on outdated data.
For example, it counts on an outdated estimate for water runoff from the Czech territory, which has long been surpassed by reality,” the organization said.
The Turów mine near the Czech-Polish border mainly supplies coal to the neighbouring power plant.
The PGE Group, which owns both the mine and the power plant, plans to mine there until 2044.
The mine is about to gradually expand to 30 square kilometers along the road from Zittau to Bogatyn.