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The sound and the fury: new film documents the plight of communities near Romanian coal plant

The Rovinari mine is operating in direct vicinity to residential areas, with conveyor belts passing as close as 20m from people's homes.

Oppressive noise and a cloud of dust engulf the residents of Roșia de Jiu and Rogojel, villages located next to Romania’s Rovinari power plant. In a new video, Bankwatch Romania has documented the toll that producing coal energy is having on these communities that live near the lignite mines, transport belts and power plant at Rovinari.

Official noise measurements show that the transport belts generate between 54,9 and 83,1 decibels, while the desulphurisation installations [1] generate between 68,8 and 71,6 dB. These are well above the national legislation that sets limits at 55dB during the day and 45dB during the night. (For comparison, a passenger car driving 105 km/h generates noise of 76 dB at 8 metres distance; a vaccum cleaner generates 70 dB.)

The noise and the dust from Bankwatch on Vimeo.

Residents of the two villages have asked for years to be relocated to an area out of harm’s way or at least to have the lignite deposits moved and the transport belts sealed. Yet no resolution has been found in spite of negotiations with various company committees and directors, or through complaints submitted to the environment protection agencies or public health authorities.

In operation since the 1970s, three units at Rovinari were modernised in recent years when desulphurisation installations were built to conform with European environment legislation. Yet the fact that the belts are not covered and the lignite not sprayed with water has also lead to a high concentration of coal dust in the air. During dry summer days, the villages seem to be swallowed by fog, and air pollution is causing a variety of heart and respiratory diseases.

Though the Paris Agreement has recently come into force, residents of Roșia de Jiu and Rogojel will continue to suffer as Romania burns lignite at Rovinari. It will not be confined to just these communities, because air pollution does not respect borders, and the Romanian government has not acted to protect its citizens.


1. The Rovinari Power Plant is the only of the four operated by Oltenia Energy Complex (OEC) to have its coal delivered on a transport belt directly from the lignite mines and the deposits surrounding it. OEC was established in 2012 by the mergers of the companies operating the largest lignite power plants and mines delivering their fueling. Today it manages 10 mines and 4 power plants: Rovinari, Turceni, Craiova and Ișalnița.