Author: Desislava Georgieva
Published On: 28/01/2022

Eco-activists from Greenpeace Bulgaria treated the new MPs with a bottle of “Coal Water” on their first day of work. The environmentalists met the MPs on their way to the parliament just before they took the oath of office. The “coal water” is from water bodies polluted or at risk of depletion due to exploitation by the fossil fuel energy sector. Coal continues to be the most polluting and contributor to greenhouse gas emissions fossil fuel.

Members of the House agreed that protecting Bulgaria’s waters, and the future of our energy sector, is of great importance, but no one has yet committed to an earlier date for getting off coal dependence, according to the environmental organisation. Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Atanas Pekanov also picked up a bottle and expressed support, but gave no specific commitment to an earlier date than the 2038 date announced as indicative by him and caretaker Prime Minister Stefan Yanev. However, environmentalists say the date goes against the recommendations of the international scientific community and commitments made under international treaties such as the Paris Climate Agreement.

In order to keep the global temperature down to 1.5°C and thus avoid a rapid deepening of the climate crisis, as well as to spare Bulgarian waters, it is necessary to set the deadline no later than 2030, experts are adamant.

The special series “Coal Water” is 7 different types. It includes water from basins exposed to pollution or with water minima affected because of the large quantities used by the coal industry. These are the dams “Rozov Kladenets” and “Ovcharitsa” and the rivers Struma, Razmetanitsa, Sazliyka, Tundzha, Maritza.

The Struma and Razmetanitsa rivers are in poor ecological condition due to the inflow of untreated water from coal mining and there is a clear link between the pollution of the Struma and Razmetanitsa rivers and the pollution of the Razmetanitsa river. There is a clear correlation between the pollution of the River Razmetanitsa and the activities of TPP Bobov Dol.

The amount of fresh water for the needs of the local power plants leads to increased pressure on the Sazliyka and Tundzha rivers. The minimum ecological levels in them are affected in order to provide sufficient water for the Rozov Kladenets and Ovcharitsa dams. In the worst-case scenario, the waters of the Maritsa River could be significantly affected due to the climate crisis before the middle of this century.

Of all the water used in Bulgaria, most of it only provides cooling needs for the energy sector. Coal is the least efficient energy source in terms of water use, with some Bulgarian coal-fired power plants ranking among the worst in the world on this indicator. Coal has a serious impact on water quality at every stage of its life cycle: from extraction to combustion to storage of waste ash.

“The research evidence is clear. Bulgaria’s waters are polluted and heavily exploited by the coal industry. If this situation does not change soon, we risk creating a permanent water shortage. That’s why we have called on the new MPs to embrace cold water and set an earlier date for leaving coal dependence – by 2030,” said Meglena Antonova, Campaigns Manager at Greenpeace Bulgaria.