Novaky, December 17 (TASR) – The electricity utility Slovenske elektrarne (SE) isn’t fulfilling its commitments to Upper Nitra Mines Prievidza (Hornonitrianske bane Prievidza/HBP) regarding the production of electricity from coal, said Prime Minister Robert Fico (Smer-SD) at the Novaky mine (Trencin region) on Saturday.
Fico was responding to accusations of the Opposition Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party that there haven’t been issued any permits for the operation of the Novaky thermal power plant’s third turbine (ENO3), where HBP is performing some test runs at the moment. SaS on Friday (December 16) filed a complaint with the Prosecutor-General’s Office concerning this very matter.
“I’d like to refute very sharply the statements of SaS and Bratislava Cafe Society about metallurgy and mining. It’s caught our attention that the steel production in Kosice should be suspended and in the case of mining these statements are backed by concrete steps,” stated Fico. He thinks that SaS is attacking the electricity production in ENO3, which, however, had to be put in operation because SE wasn’t meeting its commitments to HBP.
“It’s not a question of whether or not there was some kind of permit. The production of electricity in ENO3 is in line with the law, is based on agreement between SE and HBP and is simply essential for preserving employment in this gigantic company,” he emphasised.
The premier went on to stress that he’ll keep insisting on preservation of the mining tradition in the Upper Nitra area, which is closely related to 4,200 jobs. “It’s totally obvious that people from offices and cafes in Bratislava don’t care about whether there will be these jobs or not,” claimed Fico, adding that SaS would probably like to shut down these mines as well as the steel works in Kosice. Fico said that these statements represent targeted political attacks.
HBP general director Peter Cicmanec confirmed that issues with the first and second turbines in the Novaky thermal power plant led HBP to strike a deal with SE about performing a test run in the third turbine. “That’s why we’ve developed a project; this project will last for four months. The aim of this test and the project is to find conditions for combustion in this block in order for it to meet the emission limits on sulphuric oxides and on nitric oxides and to create a spare operation unit in case of a blackout on turbines one or two,” specified Cicmanec.
Cicmanec said that SE weren’t subscribing to a sufficient amount of coal from HBP, which limited the mining activities in several places and thus endangered the continuity and safety of the establishment.
SaS decided to file the aforementioned complaint due to the economic damage and negative impact on people’s health and the environment caused by burning coal for this turbine. The liberals further stated that HBP’s activities in the area of production and sale of electricity are presumably also being carried out without required permits.
SaS MPs Jana Kissova, Anna Zemanova and Karol Galek also called on Economy Minister Peter Ziga (Smer-SD), Environment Minister Laszlo Solymos (Most-Hid) and SE and HBP representatives to shut down ENO3 immediately.
Michal Sarissky of SE told TASR last week that required permits for testing of a mobile desulphurisation unit have been issued by corresponding state institutions. Slovak Environment Inspectorate (SIZP) director Zdenek Gregor confirmed that SE notified the Environment Inspectorate in Banska Bystrica and the District Office’s department for environmental protection in Prievidza (Trencin region) about the operational test on November 27. However, the tests are said to have begun on November 7.
Fico also said that he’ll meet representatives of HBP and of other relevant institutions in Bratislava on Monday (December 19). “We’d like to settle this dispute by the end of the week so that conditions are set for the people’s work, mining and electricity production in 2017 as well,” added Fico.