Poland faces penalty for continuing operations at disputed Turow mine
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Poland to continue operations at disputed Turow mine

21 Sep 2021 (Last Updated September 21st, 2021 08:57)

Poland has been fined $586,000 a day for failing to comply with the EU court’s order to halt mine operations.

The Polish Government said that it will continue operating the Turow lignite mine on the border with the Czech Republic, even after being hit with an EU fine for not ceasing operations.

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has imposed a daily fine of $586,000 (€500,000) to Poland for failing to comply with the court’s order in May to immediately halt lignite extraction activities at the mine.

EU said in a statement: “Having regard to the circumstances of the present case, and taking the view, in particular, that the interim order relates to interim measures with which compliance is necessary in order to avoid serious and irreparable harm to the environment and human health, Poland must be ordered to pay the [European] Commission a penalty payment of €500,000 per day from the date of notification of the present order to Poland until that Member State complies with the interim order.”

The May ruling was a temporary measure until the final judgement on the complaint filed by the Czech Republic was made by the court.

At that time, Turow mine operator Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE) said that it cannot agree to the closure of the mine as it would result in a shutdown of the power plant, which serves 3.7 million homes.

In February 2021, the Czech Republic filed a lawsuit against Poland regarding the expansion of the Turow mine, claiming that it could damage communities on the Czech side of the border.

The move comes in the wake of a six-year licence extension issued to the mine in March 2020.

Reuters cited the government as saying in a statement: “The fine mentioned by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) is disproportionate to the situation and is not justified by facts. It undermines the ongoing process of reaching an amicable settlement.”

PGE CEO Wojciech Dabrowski was reported by Bloomberg as saying said: “The decision is quite bizarre and we completely disagree with it.

“It doesn’t mean that we are sticking to coal at every cost.”

Located outside Bogatynia in southwestern Poland, the Turow open-pit coal mine has been in production for more than 115 years since 1904.

The mine is located in the Lower Silesian region of Poland, near the borders of the Czech Republic and Germany.