Greenpeace activists stage protest at Czech coal plant

Photo: CTK

Nearly a dozen Greenpeace activists have occupied a cooling tower at a brown coal power plant in Chvaletice in the north-east of the Czech Republic. The team of activists climbed to the top the cooling tower on Monday morning in protest against a renovation of the plant, which would extend its lifespan until the year 2030. I asked Jan Rovenský of Greenpeace to explain the reasons for the protest:

Photo: CTK
“The reason for our protest is the plan to prolong the operation of the Chvaletice power plant, which is one of the biggest coal power plants in the Czech Republic, which is 40 years old. Its owner now plans to postpone the phase-out of the plant by ten years.

“Originally it was supposed to be phased out in 2020, but now there are plans to continue its operation until 2030, which is not good for the environment and at the same time it is not necessary for the Czech energy system because the Czech Republic is a huge exporter of electricity."

What exactly are your arguments against the operation of Chvaletice?

“The power plant definitely presents a big harm to the environment and to people’s health. According to a study by Stuttgart University from 2014, the operation of this one particular power plant causes premature deaths of 80 people per year, which is quite substantial.

Governor of the Pardubice region Martin Netolický, Jan Rovenský, photo: CTK
“At the same time, we don’t need the electricity produced by this power plant, because it produces approximately one quarter of the country’s annual export. In case the power plant is phased out permanently, the only harm would be that the export of Czech electricity will drop from 20 percent to 15 percent, which is sustainable.”

According to the owner of Chvaletice, Severni energeticka, argues that it is currently undergoing plant is to undergo modernisation that will minimize emissions?

“Yes, in fact it is true, but it is only part of the truth. After the reconstruction they would decrease the emissions by some 25 to 30 percent, which sounds great.

“The other part of the story is that because of the decrease of emission they will continue the operation for another ten years. If you calculate the aggregated emissions for these years, in fact damage to environment will be two to three times bigger.”

Photo: CTK
So what exactly are your requirements? What do you hope to achieve?

“As you now, the protests happens ahead of the regional elections that will take place next week-end. In fact we have no direct requests from the management of the power plant. We know they won’t talk to us.

“Our goal is to persuade the candidates for the regional government to promise that they will try their best to phase out this power plant as soon as possible.”