The PGE company is currently making efforts to obtain licence to continue expanding the Turów open-pit lignite mine. This would enable continued operation of the Turów power generation complex (open-pit mine and power plant) until 2044. Meanwhile scientists and experts emphasise that in order to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of the climate crisis, all EU member states, Poland included, should phase out coal by 2030, at the latest. Lignite mining and combustion in the Turów power generation complex (power plant and open-pit mine) not only deepens the climate crisis, but will also have a long-term negative impact on the environment and the population of Poland, Czech Republic and Germany.
Lignite extraction by open-pit mining causes irreversible environmental damage, especially to water resources, that are already the aspect of the environment most endangered by climate change. Open-pit mining causes groundwater drainage on a large scale, creating a so-called „cone of depression” around the open pit. Within this cone, in the radius of tens of kilometers from the mine working, part of the groundwater as well as surface water disappears. Any further expansion of the Turów open-pit mine poses a serious threat, as tens of thousands of inhabitants of the area on the Czech side may lose access to drinking water. Groundwater drainage also causes land subsidence, endangering houses in the Żytawa region. Its inhabitants temporarily repair their houses, however they fear instability and loss of property value.
Drainage of lignite deposits also alters water chemical composition. Water containing toxic elements flows into the excavation, later being discharged into nearby rivers. As a consequence, the content of heavy metals and radioactive elements in the rivers increases. Mine waters also carry huge amounts of coal suspension, which is very harmful to aquatic ecosystems. Lignite is also one of the „dirtiest” fossil fuels – it contains high concentrations of toxic elements such as mercury, lead or cadmium. Air pollutant emissions from the Turów power plant include: particulate matter PM2.5, NO2, SO2, mercury. They put a huge number of people in danger of increased risk of developing stroke, lung cancer, as well as other respiratory and cardiovascular conditions. In children, they cause elevated risk of respiratory infections and cognitive disorders.
The Polish Minister for Climate and Environment, Michał Kurtyka, is currently seeking to issue a licence for the PGE GiEK company which will allow for the expansion of the Turów open-pit lignite mine. The issuing of the licence will translate into further expansion of the open-pit and will extend the operation of the power plant until 2044. Send a letter to the Minister for Climate and Environment and to the Chairman of the Management Board at PGE GiEK, urging them to stop further lignite extraction in the Turów open-pit mine and urgently set the year 2030 as the deadline for coal phase-out in Poland.