Matt Atlas

Czech Republic To Sue Poland Over Turow Mine

The Czech Republic will file a lawsuit against Poland over the expansion of mining at the Turów lignite mine. It will require the cessation of mining. The proposal was submitted by the Ministry of the Environment and Foreign Affairs. The reason for the lawsuit is mainly the negative impact of mining on the border regions of Hrádek and Frýdlant, where groundwater is declining for Czech citizens, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

The lawsuit before the Court of Justice of the EU is primarily aimed at violating Czech citizens’ rights. According to the Ministry, the Court will first consider an application for interim measures, which could be issued in a matter of weeks. The dispute may be settled by agreement of both parties until the judgment is given.

Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček (ČSSD) stated in a press release that he had tried for a long time to resolve the dispute without a court, but the meeting in Warsaw did not lead to it ten days ago. According to him, mining has a negative daily impact on the lives of tens of thousands of Czechs. He fears stretching the court.

“Meanwhile, the mine will continue to drain water, and dust will continue to pollute the air they breathe,” he said. Therefore, according to him, Czechia will also file a motion for interim measures. If the court granted him, mining would have to stop until the verdict is handed down.

The Minister of the Environment Richard Brabec (ANO) stated in a press release that mining has severe and irreversible negative impacts on the Czech Republic environment. “So filing a lawsuit, even if it is the most extreme solution, is inevitable. International negotiations at the diplomatic and professional level with Poland will, of course, continue. If Poland accepts our demands, the lawsuit can be withdrawn,” he said.

According to Deputy Foreign Minister Martin Smolek, who is also the government’s agent for representing the Czech Republic before the court, the lawsuit is aimed primarily at violating Czech citizens’ rights. “They could not participate in the permitting procedure for the expansion of the mine or the judicial review of this decision. Poland also did not provide the Czech side with the necessary documents related to mining and did not take into account the environmental impact assessment,” he said in a press release.

According to the ministry, Poland will first be allowed to comment in writing on the lawsuit, then the oral part of the trial will begin. The opinion of the Advocate General should follow. If the court proceeds to the Czech proposal to hear the case as a matter of priority, the ruling could be handed down in about a year, the ministry said.

The Polish Turów mine supplies coal mainly to the neighboring power plant, and the PGE group, which owns the mine and the power plant, wants to mine there by 2044. Last March, the Polish climate ministry extended the company’s mining concession by six years. The mine should expand to 30 square kilometers, and the Poles plan to mine to a depth of 330 meters. People from the Liberec region’s border region, like the people of Saxony, fear increased noise and dust, but mainly water loss.

In a non-binding opinion on the Czech-Polish dispute over Turów in December, the European Commission concluded that the Polish side was incorrectly assessing the mine’s impact on the environment and had wrongly informed neighboring states of its intentions. However, the Czech complaints concerning, among other things, the effect of mining on drinking water supplies are unfounded, given the evidence and arguments presented by both parties.

According to earlier statements, the lawsuit is also supported by the Liberec region, which borders Turów.