The planned Gubin/Brody surface mine: The federal state government backs our criticism of the inadequate planning documents

09/25/2016

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Representatives of environmental associations and municipalities near the border have to date submitted 1023 objections concerning the planned Gubin/Brody surface mine to the regional environmental protection directorate in the Polish city of Gorzów Wielkopolski. The federal state parliamentary representatives Heide Schinowsky and Benjamin Raschke, the Brandenburg Bundestag representative Annalena Baerbock and the MEP Ska Keller from Gubin (all representing Alliance '90/The Greens) have also submitted critical opinions.

The semi-privatised energy corporation PGE (Polska Grupa Energetyczna) is planning a surface mine between Gubin and Brody on a site of over 10,000 hectares, right by the border with Brandenburg. Some 17 million tonnes of coal are to be extracted there each year from 2025 until 2078.

It has since become clear that the Brandenburg federal state government shares the criticism of the Alliance '90/The Greens group in the federal state parliament that the environmental impact assessment for the planned surface mine is inadequate. “The inspection to date of the documents provided has found that they are insufficient to enable proper assessment of the potential environmental effects on the federal state of Brandenburg,” Minister Albrecht Gerber (SPD) said in response to an enquiry by Heide Schniowsky. Together with the relevant authorities, the Brandenburg Mining Authority was therefore planning to ask the Polish authorities to provide further expert opinions that form the basis for the environmental report. The Alliance '90/The Greens group in the federal state parliament has pressed the issue by submitting a brief enquiry (document no. 6/3251) and has asked the federal state government to detail what it is doing to protect the population and the environment.

The pumping off of mine water for the planned surface mine is expected to decrease the volume of water in the Neisse by approx. 10 per cent, and by a staggering 77 per cent in the case of the Lubsza, a tributary of the Neisse. According to the documents, the surface mine operator PGE plans to compensate for the loss of water by discharging mine water into the rivers. “The federal state government must take great care that destructive amounts of iron hydroxide and sulphate are not flushed into the ecosystems of the Oder or the Neisse,” demanded Heide Schinowsky. There is a risk of iron hydroxide and sulphate contamination on both sides of the border river because the geology is similar.

The parliamentary representative is also critical of the dump that is planned for the mine. PGE plans to construct an artificial hill of approx. 70 metres in height from the excavated materials from the surface mine. That is roughly the height of the parish church/principal church of Gubin. The risk is that dust and dirt will be blown far into Lusatia, given that the landscape is otherwise flat. The documents also contain barely any information about that issue.
The PGE already has plans for what to do with the mine after 2078. The corporation is planning to build a ski slope there. “There is no better way of describing the madness of the project,” said Heide Schinowsky.


Background:

The environmental impact assessment (EIA) is a Europe-wide, statutory procedure that identifies, describes and analyses the possible effects of a project on the environment (soil, water, air, climate, landscape etc.). That includes the involvement of citizens concerned, the relevant authorities, associations and companies. The planned surface mine lies just a few hundred metres from the border with Germany. That is why a cross-border EIA is being performed.

A truncated version of the documents on the EIA was translated into German and made available in municipalities near the border until the end of 2015. Until 12 January 2016, objections of citizens concerned and the relevant authorities can be submitted to the Polish authorities.
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Oral enquiry and answer of the federal state government on 15.12.2015 (German)

“Involvement in the environmental impact assessment (EIA) of the planned Polish Gubin/Brody surface mine project”

Brief enquiry |23.12.2015I(An answer is expected at the end of January 2016) (German)

“Involvement in the environmental impact assessment (EIA) of the planned Polish Gubin/Brody surface mine project”

 

 

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