Poland defies EU Court ruling – will not close Lignite Mine

Development Minister Jaroslaw Gowin said Poland wouldn’t shut the lignite mine in Turow, on the border with Germany and the Czech Republic, but instead was engaged in “very intensive diplomatic and law-related efforts”.

Operation of the mine and connected power plant that generates some 7% of Poland’s energy.

Officials in Poland have defied an injunction by the top European Union court, saying that the ordered closure of a major brown coal mine would shake the nation’s energy system and lay off thousands of employees.

The EU’s Court of Justice on Friday ordered Poland to immediately stop operation of the mine, heeding Prague’s complaints that it drained groundwater from Czech territory and that Poland recently extended its license without proper prior environmental assessment. It’s a temporary measure, pending the court’s full ruling.

Gowin said he considers the court’s decision “scandalously incommensurate” to the situation and one that would lead to the “loss of tens of thousands of jobs and very serious disturbances in Poland’s energy system,” cutting power to millions of households.

Government authorities say they have been in talks with Prague — a close political and economic partner — over the Turow mine for years and believed an understanding had been reached. Critics and the opposition say it hasn’t done enough, but all in Poland agree that closing the mine and the power plant is not possible.

An unexpected automated outage last week at another PGE lignite power plant, in Belchatow, was felt across the European energy grid and made operators scramble to make up for the lost power. On Saturday, Belchatow plant’s largest power unit was shut after coal being conveyed to the unit went on fire. A smaller, reserve unit was put to work in its place.

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