Czech NGO issues stark warning over Poland's Turów coal mine

According to the Together for Water organization, new data shows seriously decreasing water levels in a Czech town near the border with Poland. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 28.06.2023 07:30:00 (updated on 27.06.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Together for Water non-governmental organization (NGO) issued a press release Tuesday that mining activities at the Turów coal mine in Poland are causing serious environmental harm in neighboring Czechia. 

Better measuring needed

The group highlighted decreasing water levels in a borehole in the Czech village of Uhelná as evidence. The NGO argues that the measurements in Uhelná do not match those in four control boreholes on the Polish side, which are crucial for evaluating the effectiveness of the mine's underground barrier.

Together for Water also stated that the effectiveness of the barrier – intended to prevent water from disappearing from the Czech border area – needs to be measured in Czechia, rather than in Poland.

The NGO fears that the Czech government may be using inadequate data to assess the ecological damage caused by the mine. It is calling for the Czech Environment Ministry to release all information received since the signing of the Turów agreement, including groundwater data and the amount of water in the Uhelná borehole.

Earlier this year, the Czech division of the Greenpeace activist organization protested in Prague for the government to fully release water-quality data near the Czech-Polish border of the affected area.

Together for Water further urges Czechia to engage in negotiations with Poland, requesting an extension of the underground barrier or a reduction in mining operations due to the continuously declining water level in Czech territory. The group also suggests that Poland should develop an updated hydrogeological model, and propose preventive and corrective measures to mitigate environmental damage.

A tense history

In February 2021, Czechia took Poland to the EU Court of Justice over the expansion of mining at Turów, and the court ruled in May 2021 that Poland must cease mining immediately.

Poland refused to comply, leading to a daily fine of EUR 500,000 imposed by the court in September 2021, which Poland objected to paying. Subsequent negotiations between Prague and Warsaw resulted in the signing of the Czech-Polish agreement in February 2022.

Under the February 2022 agreement, Poland committed to compensating for the damage caused by the mine. However, local communities claim that the compensation has not reached them.

In February this year, Poland authorized prolonging coal mining in Turów until 2044. Czech environmentalists were angered by this, and also deeply frustrated with the government’s decision to extend Czech coal-mining activities at a separate mine, in the northern town of Bílina.

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