Environment

Court halts expansion of largest coal mine in Romania following Bankwatch appeal

Photo: Rosia ligite coal mine (Complexul Energetic Oltenia)

Published

October 25, 2019

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Published:

October 25, 2019

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A Bucharest court has blocked an expansion of Rosia, the largest coal mine in Romania located in Gorj county, following a legal challenge to the mine’s environmental permit lodged by Bankwatch Romania.

Romania is among seven EU countries that have not declared when they will stop using coal.

In 2016, Complexul Energetic Oltenia (CEO), the largest energy company in Romania, sought to expand the existing 1,457-hectare lignite coal mine at Rosia by a further 280 hectares, 235 out of them covered by forests which would have to be cut off, Bankwatch said in a press release.

Bankwatch argued that the environmental permit for the expansion was granted without the consultation of the most affected locals

In its court case from 2017, Bankwatch argued that the environmental permit for the expansion was granted without the consultation of the most affected locals and that the cumulative environmental impact of the eight mines in the area had not been assessed. Moreover, the expanded mine would be located only 10 kilometers away from a Natura 2000 site (Coridorul Jiului), which made it likely that endangered species would be negatively impacted by the exploitation.

Underground water on a radius of 30 kilometers around the mine would be polluted too

Underground water on a radius of 30 kilometers around the mine would be polluted too, argued Bankwatch, in an area where people are already suffering from water contamination resulting from previous coal mining activities.

“It’s high time for Romania to develop a realistic strategy to ensure that polluting and expensive sources of energy, such as coal, are replaced with sustainable ones while at the same time making sure that employment is safeguarded in mining areas,” says Alexandru Mustata, Bankwatch campaigner in Romania.

Romania is one of only seven EU countries left which have not set a coal phaseout date

She said that Romania is one of only seven EU countries left which have not set a coal phaseout date, but that it won’t be able to postpone this decision much longer.

A few days ago four Romanian mayors signed a declaration supporting a just transition to the post-coal era together with colleagues from eight European countries.

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