The Czech Republic has asked the EU’s Court of Justice (CJEU) to fine neighboring Poland €5 million a day for failing to immediately cease mining at the Turow lignite mine, due to fears it’s causing environmental pollution.

The legal action was confirmed by the court via statements on Tuesday in Czech, Polish and English on their official Twitter account.

The CJEU last month ordered Poland to cease coal mining at the site in late May over environmental concerns as an interim measure ahead of its full judgment on the case. The court said operations at the site were “likely to have negative effects on the level of groundwater in Czech territory” if mining persisted.    

However, as Poland failed to comply with the orders, the Czech Republic is now seeking harsher penalties. 

Czech Environment Minister Richard Brabec tweeted yesterday that the government is ready to “negotiate hard” when the two countries begin talks on the issue on Thursday. The minister emphasized that his government’s priority was ensuring that the citizens of the region are living in a “good environment.”

The two Eastern European countries have been embroiled in a disagreement about mining operations at Turow for over two years. In 2019, the Czech environment ministry opposed the expansion of the mine over possible environmental implications. Similarly, in February, Czech authorities filed a lawsuit against Poland on the grounds that the mine was harmful to communities living near the borderland mine region. Operations at the mine have reportedly spoiled the local drinking water supply. 

Poland’s Turow mine is of high significance for the country as it supplies lignite – a brown coal used in the nation’s energy supplies. In 2018, the mine produced some 6.5 million tons of the material. 

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