GB No. 4, spring 1991
"The enviromental movement is an invention of imperalism to waken the socialist economy.."
colonel Bogusław JaĽwiec
ex-voivode of Tarnobrzeg
Let's have alookatTarnobrzeg Province-therealmofSiarkopol where sulphur mines (Jeziórko I &II, Grzybów, Rzędów) and Carbon Bisulphate Plant are located. Thebiggest-ever sulphur mine is under constructionin Osiek.As in other sisterminesthe excavation technology is tobebased on the underground melting ofsulphur by means of a jet of hotwater. The targetyield,estimatedat760,000 tons per annum,willrequire22,485 cubic meters ofwaterper24hours (10,3 mper ton of sulphur). Forthe firsttimeinthe 20 years of Siarkopol's existence a mine is tobe equiped with a closed circuit of water technology.Water is tobeprovided by a series of wells inthevicinity ofthemine. Beforeenteringthe circuit the water is tobeprocessed atatreatment station. However, scientific it may sound itisbyno means safe. Bearing in mindthelack of discipline amongSiarkopol's employees one has to take into account the possibility of the closed- circuit's breakdown,letalone uncontrolled eruption of sulphur deposit, which is commonplace inthis method of sulphur mining.Insucha case the closed circuitofwateris rendered completely useless.Onecan easilyimagineanotherdrainedand polluted stretch of land inaregion already devastated ecologically.
Siarkopol, apart from the Połaniec powerplant,is economically the soundest enterprise inthewholeof theprovince. Siarkopolpaysgood money and provides its employeeswith flats,sometimeswithTV-sets and videos.People talk eagerly about the benefitsbutkeep quiet on the conditions of the job and its dangers. Cheap as it maybetheunderground melting ofsulphurisunhealthyor even dangeroustolife.Rumoursof serious burns and poisoning causedby carbon bisulphate are often heard.
Can it be safe to work on installations which should be replaced every ten years andarenotbecause new investmentsareconsideredmore important than safety?
To me everybody at the Carbon BisulphatePlantisa stunt man standing on a huge barrel of gunpowder just about to go off.Rumourhasit that a pressure tank containing liquid bisulphide is seriously leaking. The tank is even purported to have been on the verge of explosion more than once. This would cause the chemical pollutionofwide area and the evacuation of some 35,000 peoplefrom the area. So far nothing of thiskind has happened but how long can you live in fear? AlthoughSiarkopol's employeesseemto understand the danger, they trade theircouragefor better wages, flats,andvideos;in the meantime things are getting worse.
I have lived on the scene of total destruction for over3yearsandI havebeenwitnessinghowallegedly unharmfulSiarkopolwipesout all forms of life.It is responsiblefor yellow puddles of acid rain, unceasing odour of carbon bisulphate, andwoods fullofmutatedtrees and other plants.Inriversandlakesbathe only daredevils.Half of the province brings to mind a movieaboutnuclear destructionoramassattackfrom Mars.No research on the influence of the local industry on human beings has ever been carried out. Nobodycares to commission it.In the meantime the numberof people suffering from respiratory and mental disorders (carbon bisulphatedisintegratesthe brain and nervoussystem)is increasing.
In spite of that Siarkopol opts forbuilding new hospitals with psychiatric wards and surgeries rather thanforgivingup its profits, especially for sobadlyneededhard currency the management does nottake need ofanywarningsagainstgreat hazards.Itsonly move was the appointmentofanenvironment protection manager to makean impression of good-will and to hush up the whole matter.
This manager has at least been assigned some funds and hasadecent car at his disposal.All this is only for a show, for Siarkopol is interested in maximumprofitatthe least possible cost.Besides,itis famousforconstantpostponingthe fulfillment of itscommitments. Siarkopol goes on payingridiculously small fines and laughs at the naive.
Time is ticking. NIK (Chief Board ofSupervision)hasannounced that Tarnobrzeg voivodeship is oneof the regions of the country whichhave losttheirself-deansingabilities. According to PAN(PolishAcademyof Sciences) the Tarnobrzeg region ison the seventh place in Poland as regards the concentration of ashes in the air. According the POICTarnobrzegregion isthesecond worst ecologically devastated province in Poland.
The results of spectographicmeasure- ments of the concentrationofcarbon bisulphide vapours in the air:
Osiek - 0,060 mg/m3 - 1,2 times above the norm
Tarnobrzeg - 0,261mg/m3 - 5times above the norm
Sandomierz - 0,060 mg/m3 - 1,2times above the norm
Połaniec - 0,161mg/m3 - 3,2times above the norm
Kraków - 0,258 mg/m3 - 5times above the norm
Nowa Huta -0,098mg/m3 - 2times above the norm
The measurements were taken 2 yearsago. Thesewere the only results I could get holdof. Taking into account the fact that Polish norms are much too lowandthatfor the last two yearsthingshavebeen getting worse and worse, the result of the current measurement would beeven more horrifying.
That's how things are here.Those interested in the issue willfindmy address at the bottom. I am one of the people who willnotprostratethemselves before omnipotent Siarkopol.
We should have our own way. I feel obliged tothankmycolleaguesfor providing me with the reseason materialsandmyinterlocutorsfor sincerity. They wish to remain anonymous.
Roman Mi¶ Mróz
P.S. Siarkopolismakingplansfor mining sulphurfromdocumented deposits under the bed of theVistula River near Sandomierz.
ZB No 10/90
translation Andrzej Stobierski