Poland is the second largest coal producer and consumer in all of Europe and consequently one of the most polluted and polluting countries. From all fossil fuels brown coal is the one that has the biggest impact on climate change, producing 1/3 of the worlds CO2 emissions.
Pep Bonet visited the region of Upper Silesia – one of the most heavily industrialized and polluted areas in the continent – to document the environmental and humanitarian impact of coal mining.
During his trip to Poland Pep visited “Adamow”, a coal mine that pumps 80 to 120 million-m3 of water out of the ground every year. Dry grounds enable the extraction of brown coal but the lack of water makes the land infertile affecting the life of local inhabitants. Pep: “the surrounding burnt-out landscape is littered with heaps of coal waste, trucks and excavators. Deep in the mine, conveyor belts slither along, laden with earth and rock. On the observation deck built around the hole, people fall silent; the view has a sobering effect”.
Poland has one of the highest numbers of lakes in the world and the current developments of expanding mining throughout the country will have a serious impact on these natural resources. Devastating effects can occur on the fragile ecosystem endangering several species. Marshes and peat bogs can also dry up, causing irreversible destruction.
Researchers believe that the impact of these new mining operations will affect not only surrounding areas but also regions hundreds of kilometers away. If mining companies continue to refuse considering these facts and reevaluate their plans, the damage caused by opencast mining in Poland might have only begun.
Based on a story by Marta Kazmierska | Greenpeace.