GB No. 5-6, summer-fall 1991
Thirty years ago the Łęczna-Włodawa Lake District was the region, where inaccessible swamps covered 400 km , constituting ecological system unique on the scale of Europe.
One could find 52 kinds of species of animals there which appeared in at most two more places in Poland and for 15 species, the Łęczna-Włodawa Lakes were the only places that they inhabited Poland. It was also the richest area in Poland as far as occurrence of mud turtles is considered.
Since the sixties reclamation of land and usage of artificial fertilizers in farming have caused a terrible damage of the region. Flora and fauna have been reduced to about 20% of the former amount. Only 80 km2 of the area is close to its natural condition.
In 1975 even worse things happened. The authorities decided to begin exploiting the layers of coal.
Now two coal mines exist. The first, in Bogdanka is functioning and the other, in Stefanów is flooded by water and suspended. The story of the coal mine in Stefanów calls for another big article.
It was obvious from the very beginning, that coal mining will destruct the environment in the region north-east of Lublin. The problem was, that the mine supported some scientific researches. The experts avoided clear answers to any question, concerning possible impact of the mine on the lakes. Nobody took seriously the members of the Association for Włodawa-Łęczna Lake District Protection (AWLLDP), who were not professionals. Now, when the situation has changed & the mine has some financial troubles, scientists confirm the worst suspicions. The coal mine pierced through the isolation of underground water layers. Empty spaces left by miners cause ground lowering. In some areas the ground level wil get lower more than 2 m. It means, that many lakes will change their positions. Other ones will disappear, like the Nadrybie Lake, which was 5 m deep in seventies. Now there is 30 cm of water in it. The Piwonia River would have to flow up to sustain its present direction. Experts from the mine proposed a solution: 20 km of ground dikes will be built and waters of Piwonia will be pumped up. They do not understand the question what will happen to ecological systems of the lakes under pressure of ground works on such a scale.
How can this problem be solved? Two solutions are suggested. First, proposed by Tadeusz Chmielewski form Polish Ecological Club: to change the direction of exploiting the coal and not to dig under the lakes. This solution is based on two assumptions: that it will benefit to do so and that any demands to shut down the coal mine are unrealistic. Both are disapproved by Marian Sadło¶, the chairman of the AWLLDP, who points out, that we face the alternatives: we preserve the mine and loose the lakes, or we close the mine in favor of lakes. Therefore, according to Marian Sadło¶ the only good solution is to close the mine completely.
Of course, the Bogdanka Coal Mine will behave rationally and will reject any solution requiring the spending of money and organizational effort. What we need is the pressure on the Ministry of Industry (the formal owner of the mine) and Sejm (Polish Parliament). We ask everyone, who cares about this problem to write a letter or send a fax to addresses given below and express his/her opinion about it.
Wspólna 4, Warszawa
fax (0)22 / 28-17-58
Kancelaria Sejmu RP
Komisja Ochrony ¦rodowiska
Wiejska 4/6/8, 00-902 Warszawa
fax (0)2 / 694-17-11
"Zielone Lustro" magazine No 1/91
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