The Bucharest Court of Appeal has cancelled the Environmental Permit no. 2/2016 that allowed the extension of the Rosia coal quarry, within Oltenia Energy Complex, and the largest in Romania, the court action being introduced by Bankwatch Romania Association. 1,457 hectares have already been exploited within Rosia quarry until 2016, when Oltenia Energy Complex requested the extension by other 280 hectares, of which 235 hectares are forest, which will be cleared. Under the new circumstances, Rosia coal quarry can continue operating in the existing perimeter, but extension and deforestation have become illegal.
In its court action, Bankwatch Association raised a number of issues relating to the issue of the Environmental Permit. First of all, there was no real consultation of the affected population, as provided by law, the debate being announced and organized at Farcasesti Town Hall, at a distance of 15 kilometers from the most affected houses. Moreover, Rosia quarry is 10 kilometers away from the Natura 2000 Jiu Corridor site and a number of protected species were to be affected by this extension, as coal extraction works affect groundwater over a distance of 30 kilometers. The total impact of the 8 quarries extended in the area is not assessed either.
The negative effects of mining on the life of communities neighboring the quarries have been reported over time by citizens. The health of locals is affected by the ubiquitous coal dust and the excessive noise created by the operation of belts that transport the coal to the Rovinari power plant, located a few tens of meters from houses. In Rosia de Jiu, one of localities the most affected by the extension of Rosia quarry, groundwater has been contaminated as a result of excavation at tens of meters depth and people were left without drinking water, according to Bankwatch Association representatives.
“After Greece and Hungary announced they would close the coal industry by 2028 and 2030, respectively, there were only 7 EU Member States that did not set a date to give up the most polluting source of energy production. Romania must have a realistic strategy that will ensure both the replacement of outdated and expensive units, as well as the creation of jobs in the mining regions,” said Alexandru Mustata, Bankwatch Association campaign coordinator.