The owner of Debiensko coking plant in Silesia, Poland, has confirmed that it will stop operating in September, after years of efforts from local residents and a recent intervention from environmental law organisation ClientEarth. He has also agreed to take additional measures to monitor the town’s air quality.
Company management expressed its commitment during talks held with ClientEarth and the residents of the town of Czerwionka-Leszczyny, where the plant is located.
Residents have been complaining about poor air quality and increased incidence of cancer in the area for years. They did not believe the plant would close down in September, as it has been set for closure many times before.
ClientEarth has supported local residents with their requests and subsequent appeals.
The coking company has announced that it will closely monitor the closure and will inform the residents if they could be exposed to higher concentrations of benzene and other possible nuisances. The company will also look at carrying out additional measurements of benzene inside the plant.
ClientEarth lawyer Kamila Drzewicka said: “This is an important declaration from the company, especially during the summer vacation, when children will spend more time outdoors and will therefore be more vulnerable to air pollution from the plant.”
Production at Koksownia Dębieńsko will end on 4 September 2018. The company’s management said that it was impossible to close earlier for technical reasons.
“We are pleased that the coking plant will finally be closed. But we want to be sure that it will not be done with harm to our health,” added Leszek Machura, head of a local environmental NGO.
The company says it is making every effort to ensure that the closure of coke ovens, which is already underway, is the least disruptive to residents as possible.
In August 2017, Czerwionka-Leszczyny residents filed over 100 applications to the Regional Inspectorate for Environmental Protection in Katowice, demanding immediate closure of the coke oven furnace.
In December, ClientEarth launched a campaign on air pollution in Czerwionka-Leszczyny and industrial emissions in Poland.