The report Europe’s Dark Cloud: How coal-burning countries are making their neighbours sick prepared among others by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Wide Fund (WWF) presents a list of power plants in Europe that emit the highest amounts of substances affecting people’s health and causing premature deaths of many Europeans.
The scientists have thoroughly analysed almost every power plant in Europe (257 of 280 operating) and it turned out that three out of ten most hazardous stations are located in Poland. The second worst became Germany with two power plants making it to the “top” 10.
- Bełchatów (central Poland, Łódzkie Voivodship)
- Maritsa East 2 (Bulgaria)
- Kozienice (central Poland, Mazowieckie Voivodship)
- Drax (UK)
- Rybnik (southern Poland, Silesian Voivodship)
- Bobov Dol (Bulgaria)
- Jänschwalde (Germany)
- Nováky (Slovakia)
- Niederaussem (Germany)
- Drobeta (Romania)
The report also includes an analysis of the consequences of being exposed to plant fumes: Poland and Germany seem to unintentionally kill too many people with industrial fumes.
Each year more than 22,000 Europeans die prematurely, – says Marek Józefiak of the Alliance of Associations Polish Green Network (Polska Zielona Sieć).Unfortunately, the Polish power plant system goes pretty badly against other European countries.
The plant in Bełchatów itself is deemed to be responsible for almost 1,300 deaths annually.
Thanks to the recent epidemiological studies we can now estimate the health effects of every operating factory, including conventional power plants, – explains Krzysztof Skotak of the Polish National Institute of Public Health.
When it comes to Poland, the total of premature deaths due to exposure to industrial fumes is estimated at 5,830 (the worst in the whole Europe), whereas in Great Britain it’s “only” 2,860 and in Sweden – less than ten.
€62.3 billion spent on treatment
Polish power plants emit loads of the particulate matter, which is the sum of all solid and liquid particles suspended in the air.
Little particles get to our cardiovascular system through nose and lungs with the inhaled air, – explains Skotak.The dust itself is not yet considered a contamination. However, it carries charges of heavy metals alongside, which can cause lung, heart and brain diseases, pancreatic insufficiency and foetal damage.
Billions are spent on treating these diseases across the whole Europe.
It’s not like many people think that coal is the cheapest source of energy, because if we counted the costs of treating such diseases, coal extraction would be twice or even thrice as expensive as it is now estimated, stresses Józefiak.
Reducing the usage of coal as an energy source would be a great chance to improve the air quality in the whole Europe, to stop climate changes, and would be therefore a means of protecting public health, which is the greatest challenge of this century, – comments a representative of WHO, Dr Roberto Bertollini.
Only a few days ago, the Minister of Energy – Krzysztof Tchórzewski, judging by a threatening deficiency of energy reserves, stated that Poland needs to build over twenty new power plant units, but this report may make him change his mind soon.
The comprehensive report is available to public here.