SAFETY CONCERNS WITH ANTI-LIGNITE CAMPAIGN IN LUSATIA

Germany This weekend, hundreds of activists will gather in Lusatia in a campaign to protest against Vattenfall's open-cast mines, by occupying plants, blocking railroad tracks and more. Vattenfall is seeking a dialogue with the organizers to inform about the safety risks for activists and employees says Anne Gynnerstedt, Vattenfall's General Counsellor and responsible for Security.

These are heavy industry premises which imply heavy vehicles, electrical equipment and other dangers. Activists who intrude into the area take immense risks, and expose themselves and our employees to serious dangers,” Gynnerstedt says.

The campaign is organized by an organization called Ende Gelände, (~”It stops here”), which has called upon activists from Germany and other countries to participate in the activities of civil disobedience from Friday to Sunday, May 13 to 15, in connection with a “climate camp” in the village Proschim south of Cottbus.

According to the group's website, activists will try to interfere with the mining activities during the three days by blocking transport train rails, climbing excavators in the open-cast mines and more.

Vattenfall has emphasized that the entry is prohibited for safety reasons and has appealed to the sense of responsibility of the climate-camp organizers, and has also informed of the dangers by distributing safety information to the organizers.

“In particular, we emphasize the danger to block the rails. Some trains are not pulled by the locomotives but pushed, which means that the driver cannot see everything that happens in front of the train. Even if the driver reacts quickly to an event, the distance for the train to stop is long. There are also high-voltage overhead lines and countless other dangers in a heavy industry area such as this,” Gynnerstedt says.

In mid-April, Vattenfall signed an agreement to sell the lignite operations to the Czech EPH/PPF as a step on the company’s strategy to convert towards renewables and other production with low carbon dioxide exposure. The deal is to be confirmed by Vattenfall's owner, the Swedish state.

Some 8,000 people are directly employed in Vattenfall's lignite operations. 

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