Romania ‘Broke Environmental Rules’ in Coal Expansion
8 December 2014, Balkan Insight
The European Commission has opened an infringement case against Bucharest over deforestation caused by an expansion at a major mining complex.
The European Commission opened the case because it said that Romania had breached an EU directive on environmental impact assessment when expanding a lignite mine in the Rovinari area in the south of the country.
The EC said the Romanian authorities failed to respect the principle of sustainable development after the deforestation of over 700 hectares of trees during the expansion of the mine.
“The Commission made the right decision,” said Catalina Radulescu, a lawyer and member of the Bankwatch Romania Association, which is involved in trying to save forests from being destroyed by the expansion of Rovinari, one of the largest coal plants in Romania.
“This is a big signal for the Romanian government that all the mining projects planned in the Rovinari area cannot just happen without an assessment of their environmental and social impact. We hope that the action will force the [Romanian authorities] to abide by the law,” Radulescu said.
Romania still has a lot of work to do in order to better protect its environment, green campaigners say.
In October, the EC took Romania to its Court of Justice over a deadly 102-hectare pond that holds waste extracted from copper and zinc mines in Moldova Noua, which it described as abandoned and dangerous.
The pond is located on the left bank of the Danube, near the border with Serbia. It was used to collect and decant mine waters from the Moldomin copper exploitation, which is located a few kilometres to the north.
The water in the pond has since evaporated and now it looks more like a desert with a 1.5 meters layer of fine powder, which contains high concentrations of copper and other metals.
Some 5,780 hectares of land are affected by this source of pollution in Romania, while some 30,000 people live in the affected area, on both sides of the Danube.
Romania has 18 other sites which represent a danger to the environment, according to green activists.
Theme: Energy & climate