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Polish NGOs Blame Coal Mining for Depleted Lakes

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KWB Konin a subsidiary of the second largest producer of lignite in Poland, ZE PAK – has three, open-pit lignite mines in the area, writes the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Once state-owned but now controlled by billionaire Zygmut Solorz-Zak, ZE PAK runs four lignite-fueled power plants in the Wielkopolska region, and said that the opening of another mine is necessary to fuel these plants.

Water levels in several lakes in western-central Poland have noticeably shrunk, and some Poles are blaming the lignite mining industry, according to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Grzegorz Skowronski, the mayor of Wilczyn, a municipality west of Warsaw, said the water level of Lake Wilczynskie had dropped five meters in the last five years, and continues to decrease at an alarming rate of four centimeters per week. Furthermore, the “catastrophic” state of the lake also affects other nearby lakes, which are interconnected, Skowronski told Reuters.

Farmers have also complained, saying the water loss has drastically affected their ability to harvest, and thus their paychecks. Some said they could not plant seeds a second time this year as a result.

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KWB Konin – a subsidiary of the second largest producer of lignite in Poland, ZE PAK – has three, open-pit lignite mines in the area, writes the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Once state-owned but now controlled by billionaire Zygmut Solorz-Zak, ZE PAK runs four lignite-fueled power plants in the Wielkopolska region, and said that the opening of another mine is necessary to fuel these plants.

KWB Konin acknowledged that the mines siphon out groundwater before drilling, but also said that such practices have been going on for a long time, without affecting the environment.

“There is no question that in our activity we drain water and then throw it out … but if you sit on the edge of any of our mines and look around, you see green lands and farming taking place right next to the pit,” said Grzegorz Frąckowiak, KWB Konin director of investments, as quoted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Poland gets nearly 90 percent of its electricity from burning coal, despite much of Europe looking into renewable energy sources, Bloomberg reported.

The nation recently passed legislation that promotes coal production over renewable energy sources, New Europe writes. The nation is the eighth-largest coal producer in the world with an industry employing 100,000 people.

Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo had said ahead of the Paris climate summit in December 2015 that her country accepted the European Union’s position on reducing greenhouse gases, a change in Warsaw’s longstanding opposition to the issue as a way of protecting its coal industry.

About two-thirds of the European Union’s 50 most polluted cities are in Poland, especially in the areas where coal mining is prevalent, according to the World Health Organization, as cited by Bloomberg.
source: tol.org

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