Bulgaria: Greenpeace warns of serious environmental pollution

Bulgaria: Greenpeace warns of serious environmental pollution

The Bobov Dol coal-fired thermal power plant (TPP) is causing serious environmental damage in southwestern Bulgaria, and neither the legal requirements for its operation can prevent water and air pollution, nor are the authorities proving effective in enforcing controls. This is evidenced by the findings in the report “The Dirty Coal Heritage”, published by Greenpeace – Bulgaria.

The conclusions indicate that the waste flows from the “Bobov Dol” TPP and/or the Black Lake associated with the plant have a serious impact on the water quality and sedimentary layers of the Razmetanitsa River. The study found evidence of significant discharges of ash into the river from the unit and its Black Lake on May 21, 2019. The ecological condition of the river for the period 2017 – 2019 was assessed in the lowest possible category – “very poor”, and in accordance with European regulations Bulgaria has an obligation to improve the situation of breached river basins in its territory. Razmetanitsa is a tributary of the Dzerman River, which flows into Strouma (Strymon) and from there the waters reach the Aegean Sea. Therefore, the pollution not only affects the area around the THB “Bobov Dol”, but also crosses the border of Bulgaria.

The report by Greenpeace-Bulgaria also includes a quarterly monitoring of air pollution in Golemo Selo, as well as a previous long-term measurement of toxic nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2).

“Coal is a source of pollution throughout its life cycle. It is extremely irresponsible to allow such catastrophically high levels of pollution, especially in the context of the expected significant reduction in water resources as a result of climate change,” said study co-author Dr. Kevin Brigden. “Until action is taken against sewage and particulate pollution from Bobov Dol and the ash dumps, the impact on the area’s surface water will continue to be severe.”

The air quality study identified five cases of exceeding the average daily limit for PM10 particles of the European Union (EU) and the World Health Organization (WHO). This is an indication of the possibility of a bigger problem, as EU legislation allows only 35 exceedances per year. Eleven exceedances of the recommended daily average for sulfur dioxide (SO2) were also reported. The EU average hourly rate for SO2 has been exceeded once, according to data from the study period, so it is likely that other exceedances will be recorded during the calendar year.

“In order to ensure the timely, transparent and public assessment of air pollution from pollutants of this caliber, the air quality in the area must be constantly monitored by an independent body. “Ultimately, pollution must be prevented at the source,” he said. Aidan Farrow, author of the air pollution analysis. There is currently no permanent metering station for measuring air data in the Teca area.

The reaction of the institutions after the labeling of Greenpeace – Bulgaria for the illegal dumping of ash in the river Razmetanitsa did not yield results, the inspection by the regulatory authorities was carried out by telephone. Despite the data on sewage discharges, the Kamenik landfill has been licensed without considering its effects on the environment. In addition to creating a risk of water pollution, coal waste storage uses huge amounts of water. In 2019 alone, Kamenik used water that would be enough for the 400 inhabitants of neighboring Golemo Selo for 60 years if everyone used 100 liters a day.

“The authorities in Bulgaria have been turning a blind eye to the urgent need for an energy transition for years. The country remains one of the few in the European Union to depend on coal for refusing to announce an expiration date for its use. Only recently has there been talk of planning the transition. However, with each passing day, the coal industry inherits a heavier and dirtier legacy. “As water becomes an increasingly scarce resource, we cannot contaminate it with outdated energy technologies, which at the same time exacerbate the climate crisis and cause health problems with air pollution,” said Desislava Mikova, coordinator of the Climate and Energy campaign. of Greenpeace Bulgaria. /ibna