I’ve been in Istria and Rijeka in northwestern Croatia this week, at a series of events aimed at presenting the health impacts of the Plomin C coal power plant to the public. The events took place in the run-up to the first hearing on the court challenge launched by Zelena akcija/Friends of the Earth Croatia, Green Istria and local residents against the environmental permit for the project, which was held on Wednesday 19 June in Rijeka.
What’s really worrying is how the project promoter HEP, and Ekonerg, which carried out the environmental impact assessment, are trying to justify the pollution from Plomin C as being insignificant and spread over a wide area, as if it is more acceptable for Slovenians to suffer from health impacts than local people. Another claim is that the pollution from power plants is insignificant compared to that from other sources such as transport, as if that justifies ignoring it. I wouldn’t necessarily expect anything different from the project promoter of a coal power plant, but what about the public authorities? Alarmingly, the Istria county health authority didn’t send anyone at all to the events.
Not only that, but the Croatian Ministry for the Protection of the Environment and Nature, at Wednesday’s court hearing, tried unsuccessfully to exclude Greenpeace’s study on the impact of Plomin C on human health from being used as evidence in the court case. This request seemed to imply that the Ministry is unwilling to engage in debate about the topic and prioritises speeding up the project over protecting public health.
The court hearing was postponed until 11th October, so there is not yet a final decision on whether the environmental permit will be cancelled. Meanwhile the debate about Plomin C’s pros and cons will surely continue.
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