After the meeting of the Committee on Petitions, it seems to be clear that Europe is noticing the problems created by Turow opencast and power plant. Czech and German press are voicing the opinion that Poland is breaking the European law. On the Polish side of the border, most of the media are standing up against the Europe’s point of view.
1. Polish MEPs are manipulating the data
On the 14th of July, the Committee on Petitions of the European Parliament dealt with the petition on the danger of losing drinking water in the Czech Liberec region, due to the expansion of the brown coal mine in Turów.
The Turów mine is violating the EU law, including the Water Framework Directive and the directive on environmental liability. What is more, the Polish side's actions aiming to extend the exploitation permit stand against the UE climate policies. – stated the MEPs.
Given the unanimity of the MEPs, it is surprising to see the reaction of the Polish MEPs, who don't see any problem in Turow activities.
During the meeting, Anna Zalewska stated: – We also have an independent expertise by Polish Institute of Meteorology and Water Management (IMGW), and those scientists state that, with regards to water, this is a problem of drought and is not related to the complex’s activities.
The Polish MEPs seem to have missed the fact that the aforementioned expertise does not analyze the impact of Turow on the goundwater. Presenting the results of the IMGW study is a manipulation of facts and an awkward try on diverting the attention from the real problem.
What is more, this isn't the only manipulation attempted by Anna Zalewska, who stated that in the case of Turów “Polish, Czech and German governments are absolutely cooperating”. Zalewska’s statement surely surprised the Czechs, who want to sue Poland to the European Court of Justice.
While in the Polish media dominated the narrative in line with PGE and Polish government, protecting Turow complex with might and main, German and Czech media are commenting the meeting of the Committee on Petitions quite differently.
In the Czechia, it is highlighted that the MEPs are unanimous about the fact that Poland is in violation of EU directives. Also, Czech Minister of Environment is cited, according to whom “Warsaw is also guilty of lack of information. At the end of June, the minister Richard Brabec stated that Poland had not passed to the Czech authorities a series of required information and violated EU directives, as well.
Germany has pointed out that the EU authorities should speed up their actions. “We are running out of time, as the further exploitation and expansion of the opencast will have grave consequences for the tripoint. A couple of thousands of people in Czechia are at risk of losing drinking water. The most recent studies have also indicated a direct impact on Saxony. Leipziger Internet Zeitung writes: “Turow is taking water from Saxony!”
There are two different voices among the Polish praises of the coal energy. Karolina Kijej, in an article for Gazeta Wyborcza, cited the words of a MEP, Cristina Maestre Martín de Almagro: “So much is spoken about the Paris Agreement and emissions reduction and one of the member states chooses a development model which goes against the goals undertaken by the EU.”
On the other hand, in a comprehensive analysis for OKO.press, Katarzyna Kojzar has noticed: “However, the Czechs are afraid that the whole process will go on for years. Petra Urbanová, during the conversations with local media, reminded them that the case of logging of Białowieża Forest dragged on for 14 months in the European Commission even before the legal action was taken. That is why the Czechs want to sue Poland to the Court of Justice themselves. The Minister of the Environment, Richard Brabec, explained in the media that the whole Czech government will be deciding about the presentation of the petition. “We are convinced that the Polish side does not comply with some of the European directives. We are also very dissatisfied with the communication with the Polish side. We haven't received the required information from them”.
A day after the Committee on Petitions meting, the company PGE, on the website euractiv.com, posted a sponsored article regarding energy transition. “Our power company in Turow may be a good example of challenges related with the achievement of the European Union-wide targets on the national and regional level. Creating a good understanding of the issues related to that matter is a key to a successful energy transition, which will not leave behind any country or region. [...] In March, the Turow Opencast was granted an extension of the exploitation permit for another six years and is also applying for another extension until 2044, that is until all the coal deposits will have been exhausted. After 2044, according to the UE green policy, the terrains of the Turow plant will undergo land rehabilitation”, reads in the article. Apparently, PGE does not understand “EU Green Policy” and challenges posed by the climate catastrophe. In order to fulfill the goals of the climate agreement, Poland should back out of coal until 2030.
Just as the Polish MEPs, PGE argues that the Turow activity does not impact the water status in the region and they cite the study by Polish Institute of Meteorology and Water Management (IMGW) - National Research Institute.It’s worth to mention that the study does not analyze the impact of the Turow mine on the groundwater in Germany and Czechia, but only on the surface waters!
Is the PGE's quick response to the activities of the European authorities indicative of the fact that the company is losing ground?
More and more MEPs engage in the issue of Turow and the problem of the Czech people's access to drinking water. A German MEP, Anna Cavazzini, has been dedicated to the cause for a long time. She has mentioned the problem many times on her blog and in social media, she has raised the issue in the European Parliament and spoke about it in the media. She has also posed parliamentary questions regarding this problem to the European Comission. On the 30th of August 2020, she will come to Tripoint with a supervention before a canoeing event “Energy Transition.”
On July, 19, a Slovakian MEP Martin Hojsik went to the area of Turow and shot a short video account and posted it on Facebook, adding a description: “People who live in the area of the mine, located only 100 meters from the Czech border, already have problems with water flow, polluted air and noise. Today I went to see this. Together with my colleagues we are pressuring European Commission to quickly resolve the issue”.
4 days earlier, during the meeting of the Committee on Petitions, he was saying:
– This is about drinking water, we cannot wait a few more years. Let's remember that analysis are being conducted so that the company may apply for permit extension for 20 years.