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Czech activists cut water supply of the Environment Ministry to protest against the Turów coal mine

A group of activists closed the water supply of the Environment Ministry building in Prague for about half an hour to protest against the deal made between the Czech Republic and Poland on the Turów coal mine.

Greenpeace protests against the agreement on the Turów coal mine
Greenpeace protests against the agreement on the Turów coal mine between the Czech Republic and Poland on on February 3, 2022 | © Greenpeace

On February 14, a group of activists shut down water supply in the building of the Ministry of Environment of Czech Republic, according to the Czech News Agency.

The stunt is meant to alert on the water supply risks near Turów coal mine plant. Residents of the Liberec Region in northern Czech Republic near the coal plant point out that groundwater is declining in the area due to mining activities.

Activists originally planned to shut down water supply for a couple of hours but it stopped half an hour after the police arrived.

The water supply is connected to the fire extinguishing system, and office spokeswoman Dominika Pospíšilová said that the office operation was endangered during the water shutdown, especially in terms of safety and hygiene. Environment Minister Anna Hubáčková told Czech journalists the action was beyond decent behavior.

A series of protests took place in the past few days against the deal made between Czech Republic and Poland regarding the Turów coal mine in Poland, near German and Czech borders.

On Sunday, Greenpeace organized a demonstration in Wenceslas Square in Prague, where a couple hundreds of people participated.

Greenpeace argues the agreement made by Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala with his Polish counterpart on February 3 doesn't protect Czech water reserves.

Poland fined by the European Court of Justice until it closes down the Turów coal mine

The deal ended a long-standing dispute between both countries.

Last year, the Czech Republic took the dispute to the European Court of Justice. It argued Poland had ignored its protests that the mine drained water from Czech villages, which also caused excessive noise, dust and light pollution.

In September, the European Court of Justice asked to close down the plant and imposed a daily fine of 500,000 euros (US$562,000) as long as Poland continues to operate it. But Poland refused to pay the fine as the lignite mine generates almost 9% of the energy in the country. Poland further argued the EU court had no authority to impose the fine.

But under the agreement, Poland will pay the Czech Republic 45 million euros ($50.6m) in compensation, including 10 million that will go to environmental projects in the mine’s neighborhood. Poland would finance an underground wall or barrier that aims to prevent further groundwater runoff from the Czech territory.

The European Court said the fine would accrue until the Czech Republic withdraws the case. In early February, the fine had grown to 68 million euros. Since January, the European Union had started to deduct money from payments to Poland to cover unpaid fines.

Czech Republic withdrew the case few days after the agreement.

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