Romania: Coal mining activities of Complexul Energetic Oltenia allegedly linked to premature deaths

On 15 May 2018, Aljazeera published an article entitled "The hidden cost of coal in Romania". Here, coal is used to produce about a quarter of the country's energy. The article also talks about the impact on human rights, health and the environment of Complexul Energetic Oltenia's (CEO), Romania's biggest coal company, coal mining activities. In particular, it links coal pollution to premature deaths, asthma attacks in children and access to water resources in Romania. The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited CEO to respond to the allegations. Their response is available below.

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Company response
24 May 2018

Complexul Energetic Oltenia's response

Author: Complexul Energetic Oltenia

...Considering the article published in Aljazeera on May 15, 2018, i.e. "The hidden costs of coal in Romania", we are hereby submitting the answers of Complexul Energetic Oltenia at the request of Mrs. Claudia Ciobanu, a freelancer reporter, with respect to the impact of the activity of Complexul Energetic Oltenia, in particular the mining activity in Gorj County: [...]

The monitoring of waste water quality parameters of the discharged water does not indicate exceeding of the maximum permissible values, respectively no pollution of the waters in which they are discharged. Complexul Energetic Oltenia has invested in the further development and maintenance of water supply networks and sewage treatment plants in 16 villages in Gorj County...

As a result of the investments (wetting installations, carcasses, electrostatic precipitators modernisation, discharge of ash and slag in dense slurry system), the quality of the ambient air in the region has been improved considerably...

Deforestation of forestry vegetation is made with the strictly observation of legal requirements...

The lignite exploitation activity is performed according to the documents approved by all the competent authorities that certify that such activity is not toxic and does not use toxic substances...

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Article
15 May 2018

The hidden costs of coal in Romania

Author: Claudia Ciobanu & Mihai Stoica, Aljazeera

Romania [...] boasts a diverse energy mix. The country produces about a quarter of its energy from coal, compared with almost a third from hydro and 15 percent from other renewables.

Coal producers argue that [...] the carbon-rich material is crucial for ensuring the stability of the energy system...

Romania's coal equipment is old, and European Union pollution standards mean huge investments are necessary to ensure the plants keep working...

Boza, director for Complexul Energetic Oltenia (CEO), the biggest coal company [...] wants Romania to ask the EU for a postponement in implementing the newest standards - an allowance to keep polluting for longer...

According to data from the NGO coalition Beyond Coal [...] in Romania alone [...] coal was responsible for over 1,000 premature deaths in 2015. More than half were estimated to be because of CEO alone...

The negative impacts of coal mining on the environment - destruction of local ecosystems and agricultural land; underground and overground water pollution; contamination of land and dust pollution - have been widely documented...

The Romanian energy ministry, "upon consulting with CEO", denied most of the claims...

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