photo: Martin Metodiev

The social and environmental problems inherited from the coal industry are very deep, and the institutions do not show initiative to find a solution. This became clear once again after the rupture of a wall of an artificial lake with waste from TPP "Republic" in Pernik, which necessitated an emergency evacuation of two neighborhoods in the city.


The landfill stores waste products from coal combustion. In theory, TPP "Republika" - there are 2 landfills, which are called respectively "September 7" and "Kudin Dol". For 67 years of activity, TPP Republika has generated more than 26 million tons of waste, which have been deposited in the ash dump on September 7 and more than 6 million tons of waste deposited in Kudin Dol.


Unfortunately, the current scenario is no surprise - it is fulfilling the fears of local people, who have been struggling for years with poor controls and non-compliance with safety rules. The crisis was foretold even two months ago Association "Breathe, Pernik" sent questions to the institutions in connection with the so-called ash dump (or landfill for energy production waste) at the Republika coal-fired power plant, but no reaction followed. Apart from the danger of spillage, the landfill in question is an almost constant source of dust in Pernik and the surrounding area, which the organization is struggling with but does not find support from the institutions.

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The deadline for reclamation of Kudin Dol was the end of 2014, and the reclamation of September 7 was supposed to take place by December 2016. Although these dates are long gone, TPP Republika has continued to use the landfill “7 September ", which probably led to the incident in early May 2020. The institutions are not aware of the problems of these landfills since yesterday. In 2019 alone, there were at least 5 emergencies in which sludge water from the "September 7" ash dump reached the Struma River. according to data from an inspection of the RIEW - Pernik.


For its part, the TPP has proven to be an unreliable facility. It regularly leaves pillows without heating and hot water in the deepest winter. Frequent accidents show that currently coal does more harm to Pernik than to create any benefits and definitely has no future even in a city long described as the "heart of coal mining" in Bulgaria.


Instead of planning to replace coal with alternatives such as solar energy, which does not generate waste from energy production, we remind that in the past 2 years TPP Republika tried to introduce incineration of mixed waste and biomass as fuel, which also generates sludge and ash with potentially hazardous characteristics. If it were not for the active civil position of hundreds of people in Pernik, then in the current overcrowded landfill, this type of hazardous waste would be "stored".

"Such accidents happen and will continue to happen until a complete solution is found. Half a year ago, together with Breathe Gingerbread we initiated a discussion of Vision for Pernik, with which to offer alternatives for energy production in the city. The continuous generation of new waste and the demands for new landfills or expansion of the current ones in no way correspond to the ideas about energy of the future "- recalls Meglena Antonova from" Greenpeace - Bulgaria ". One of the key ideas in Vision for Pernik is the idea of ​​solar district heating, which will not pollute the air and will not need a landfill. Similar projects have been successfully implemented in countries with significantly fewer sunny days - Denmark, Finland, Austria.


From the sludge storage, which showed that there are serious gaps in its maintenance, through illegal coal mining and the need to rehabilitate old mines, all these are problems for which there is a solution, but a concrete and working action plan is needed.  The enterprising people of Pernik are ready for the future - the question is when the government will realize it.

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