Court blocks expansion of Romania’s largest coal mine, following challenge from environment group

coal mine/mina de carbune

A Bucharest court has blocked the expansion of Rosia, the country’s largest coal mine, following a legal challenge to the mine’s environmental permit lodge by Bankwatch Romania.

In 2016, Complexul Energetic Oltenia (CEO) in Gorj the largest energy company in Romania, sought to expand the existing 1457-hectare lignite coal mine at Rosia by 280 hectares, 235 of them covered by forests which would have to be cut down

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In its court case the next year, Bankwatch, a network of environmental groups in central and eastern Europe, argued that the environmental permit for the expansion was granted without the consultation of the most affected locals and the environmental impact of the eight mines in the area had not been assessed.

It also said that the expanded mine would be just 10 kilometers away from a Natura 2000 site (Coridorul Jiului), making 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 in an area where people already have problems with water contamination due to previous coal mining activities, Bankwatch argued.

The Court of Appeal made the ruling against  on Oct. 17. The ruling is final. Reacting to the news, trade union accused company managers of incompetence and claims environmental groups „don’t really fight for the environment.” Company managers were waiting for the court’s written ruling befored deciding what action to take.

The company had more than 13,000 employees at the end of 2017, has laid of hundreds of workers in recent years.

Bankwatch’s Mustata said: „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.”

He noted that Romania is one of only seven European Union countries which have not set a coal phaseout date. In this context, giving the green light to new coal mines would deceive locals and miners.


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