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New coal power units in Opole, Poland raise health concerns

Following lively discussions, the Polish government recently gave the official go ahead for the construction ofnew coal power units in Opole, in southern Poland.

According to a report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) entitled ’Revealing the costs of air pollution from industrial facilities in Europe’ external costs of new power units in Opole are estimated at 16.7 - 45.4 million EUR. Polish citizens will bear these costs with higher disease and death rates from respiratory and cardiovascular disease.

The Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk claimed Opole was the biggest industrial investment in Poland since Communist times, but it is unclear if this construction will ever pay off.

The two planned power units of 900 MW will cost approximately 2.8 billion EUR, use roughly 3.5 million tons of hard coal and will emit nearly 8 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, for 50 years. This raises serious concerns for health, particularly for those living in proximity to the power plants.

According to the environmental assessment report new power units in the Opole power plant will meet the requirements of the EU’s Industrial Emissions Directive. However, even with these emission standards, the power units will release 3528 tons of sulfur dioxide, 3528 tons of nitrogen oxides and 352 tons of particulate matter each year, increasing the air pollution substantially.

Originally posted on 6 March 2014

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