Greenpeace and Bankwatch: coal power plant unit operates ilegally

Comunicat de presă - ianuarie 19, 2016
Lignite coal power plant unit operating ilegally in Turceni, Romania

Oltenia Energy Complex is operating again an energy unit from Turceni power plant, although it does not comply with the operating conditions according to the legislation regarding the industrial emissions (1). Teams from Greenpeace and Bankwatch are now at the coal power plant, have called the Environmental Guard from Gorj to inspect and declare the illegal operation of unit 7 and end its activity.

Turceni coal power plant is part of Oltenia Energy Complex, where between 1978 and 1987, 7 energy units have been built. It is operating under an integrated environmental authorisation emitted in March 2014 by the Environmental Agency in Gorj County. This authorisation does not include unit 7, because this was supposed to stop operating since the beginning of 2014.

Credit foto: Mircea Topoleanu

Since 2006, Unit 7 had an exemption from fulfilling the legal obligations to reduce pollution, under the form of a commitment to only operate 20,000 hours starting with 2008, until 31st of December 2015 the latest. According to this exemption, for 5-6 years, the unit 7 has polluted up to 10 times more than the legal norms that are generally applicable or compared to other energy units from Turceni. (1). The 20,000 hours were exhausted in 2014.

According to the applicable legislation, unit 7 cannot be operated again unless there are investments to comply with the applicable environmental standards that apply to a new coal power plant and after reviewing the integrated environmental authorisation for the whole Turceni power plant. The Oltenia Energy Complex has already requested the review of the authorisation for Turceni in December 2015, to try to avoid again to comply with the pollution norms, by practically renaming the burning installation. In any case, operating the unit before having a revised integrated environmental authorisation is breaking the legal provisions.

Greenpeace Romania and Bankwatch Romania have bared witness of the operation of unit 7 and have requested clarifications from the company this morning, at its headquarters.

Ionuț Cepraga, energy campaigner at Greenpeace România said:

„We are trying to find out from the management of the coal power plant why it chose to operate this unit again without following the legislation. We asked today the National Environmental Guard to have an inspection of the power plant. Following this inspection, we expect that the Environmental Guard finds that the unit 7 is operating illegally and disposes the immediate suspension of its activity. Our team is now in Turceni to make sure the power plant is operating under legal conditions”.

Alexandru Mustață, campaign coordinator at Bankwatch România says:

„Bankwatch Romȃnia has requested in the court of law the cancelling of the integrated environmental authorisation for Turceni power plant in December 2014, the irregularities being connected mainly with the old law base, the emission standard that is used and the lack of an environmental impact evaluation. The complaint was first rejected, but the appeal is ongoing. Regarding the renaming of unit 7, an artifice that would allow it to continue to benefit from derogations, Bankwatch Romania sent in December 2015 a complaint to the European Comission, because, in our perspective, four directive were breached and we asked for an investigation of this potential case of infringement.”