The lie that kills Galabovo

After Brickel TPP covered the city again with fine dust particles, from the eco-inspection they misled the citizens about the condition of the air they breath

Илюстративна снимка: Łukasz Dyłka от Pixabay

Another case of gassing and dusting of the air in the town of Galabovo from the activity of the Brickel TPP owned by Hristo Kovachki, is a precedent, not an incident, as it was presented in some of the media that published information about what has happened.

An employee of the company explained before the camera that the reason the town to be covered with gray-black dust clouds was an extremely strong wind that scattered the ash from the so-called Black Lake, where the remains from production are stored. And an expert from the Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Water (RIEW) – Stara Zagora explained that the dusting had arisen “as a result of unorganized emissions from the landfill”. Because the operator has not notified the competent authorities, as required by the complex company permit,

an administrative and criminal proceedings against Brickel has started.

The Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Water is using data from the control stations of the Executive Environment Agency (ExEA) in the region. That is the way the Inspectorate fperates based on the information it receives from ExEA. However, it turns out that in Galabovo – one of the most environmentally critical cities in the country, the level of fine particulate matter in the air is not measured automatically, as are the emissions of nitrogen and sulfur dioxide but by hand sampling.

The next gassing of Galabovo
Photo: “For the Earth – Access to Justice

The results from these samples become ready in two weeks. So in practice, it turns out that

the eco-inspection has misled the citizens,

that “everything is OK”. Because it really isn’t and it will become clear but only after the above period of time expires. However, the media will be long forgotten the case and the citizens of Galabovo will already have exhaled another dose of ash. And my question why in the dustiest city in the country the level of fine particulate matter is not automatically measured didn’t receive an answer from the competent persons.

Ten days earlier – on July 1st

there was an accident at Hristo Kovachki’s TPP,

which necessitated the replacement of the combustion installation. And this is at least according to official information about the incident. The Association “For the Earth – Access to Justice” reported to RIEW-Stara Zagora in connection with the black smoke emitted from the installation’s smokestack (including photo material). The members of the association also insist on starting of inspections. These inspections must determine whether the desulfurization installations are running 24/7 at the plant, whether they use the required amount of reagent for purification of the smoke and whether the standards for the production of 1 MWh of electricity are met, and whether the company keeps records of the purchased quantities of the reagent. The association also wants an answer as to whether Kovachki’s company uses only the coal specified in the complex permit – coal

or incinerates waste and biomass.

In a telephone conversation, “Brikel” CEO Yani Pavlov denied before “Pro Veritas” that the plant burns waste, but not the fact that it is stored on its territory. At the same time, it is a long-known fact that all Kovachki’s energy companies want to use waste, biomass and shale as fuel, and the Association “For the Earth – Access to Justice” has brought court cases against these investment intentions and the decisions of the responsible institutions associated with them.

One of the cases is against a decision of the RIEW – Stara Zagora that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is not needed for a change in “Brikel” Comlex Permit, which would regulate the incineration of waste and would in fact turn Brikel into an incinerator.

The court must determine

does the company have the technical capacity to purify the emissions

from burning of this type of fuels which is also very likely to have toxic substances such as dioxins and furans. Another problem is the preparation of expertise (expert assessment report) because the court experts withdraw themselves from the proceedings. According to Regina Stoilova – a lawyer of the association, while the procedure for issuing the complex permit was still going-on, the eco-inspection has allowed preliminary execution. She also commented on the strange fact that the “District Heating” of Sliven has an EIA decision for 67 tonnes of waste per day and for the requested 2 years later 100 tonnes by Brickel, the same RIEW (RIEW Stara Zagora controls Sliven and Yambol) says that

there is no need for an Environmental Impact Assessment.

The second case of the Association “For the Earth – Access to Justice” is against the Executive Environmental Agency (ExEA), which at the end of 2018 allowed the updating of the Brickel complex permit for the construction of desulfurization installations of the closed 4th, 5th and 6th units after their operational deadline has expired. And despite the claim that these units will only be used as a reserve, Meglena Antonova from “Greenpeace-Bulgaria” is adamant that

the company is trying to circumvent the requirements

of the European Directive for large combustion plants which sets higher standards for air purification. And instead of going through a derogation procedure, the company prefers to use the options for changing the complex permit rather than requesting a new one, because then it will have to be discussed in public.

Danita Zarichinova from “For the Earth” informed “Pro Veritas” that they received twice a

denial of access to public information

whether waste and biomass are being burned, even experimentally, in “Bobov Dol” and “Brickel” TPPs. With the argument that it is a trade secret that the owner does not want to disclose. And for “Brickel” it is even stated that the company is part of Bulgaria’s national security system.

And here comes the question

is human health related to national security?

The answer is clear, but who cares!

More than 10 years ago, a screening commissioned by the Ministry of Health in the settlements of the region of East Maritza basin has shown an increase in respiratory diseases, especially asthma and allergies. The population in Galabovo lives in constant health risk and has for decades suffered the adverse effects of the activities of the old “Lizzie” “Brickell”. And as we know that our old cars are harmful, but we continue to use them because we have no money for new ones, so the workers at the Kovachki’s Company know that their children grow up in a poisonous environment, but they pray for their company not to be closed so that they would not remain on the street.

Workers at Brickel protesting the closure of the plant
Photo: Venelina Popova

Strange logic – to prefer a secure slice of bread over your health and constitutional right to live in a clean environment. But the facts are such and

the lie often becomes the norm.

The oldest combustion plant in Bulgaria – the former TPP “Komsomolskaya”, which is now part of “Brickel”, according to documents meets modern environmental requirements. But is this the case? What is the reason for the frequent accident regimes and why over norm levels of sulfur dioxide are often recorded in Galabovo and the air is constantly dusted? Do desulphurization installations work continuously and is sulfur gas purification effective or reagents are saved, as environmental organizations suspect? What waste and with what content will the plant burn or already is burning? Who will guarantee that no toxic substances will be released from this incineration? Why is it impossible for the state and the local authorities to stand against the owner of “Brickel”? And why is the debate about the future of the plant and the briquette factory rarely raised and only in a few media?

These questions remain unanswered.

But 2021, when all coal plants in Bulgaria must meet the requirements of the Large Combustion Plant Directive (LCPD) is not far off. By then, Brickel must also prove that it adheres to best practices, as claimed by the management of the company. Otherwise, the state must close it regardless of how deep Hristo Kovachki’s financial mines are. And no matter how terrible a mining strike is for the authorities.


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