On Saturday morning a collective of twenty Dutch EarthFirst! activists blocked the coal conveyor- belt to a plant owned by the German energy giant E.on on the Maasvlakte near Rotterdam. This day, December 8, has been announced as an international actionday in the protest against the coal industry. The growing number of coal-fired power plants worldwide and in the Netherlands at the moment is the biggest threath to the climate. Secondly, this action is part of the protest against the plans for a new E.on coal-fired plant, right next to the existing one on the Maasvlakte.
Several activists have locked themselves to the conveyor-belt which transports the coals to the powerplant. 'Unfortunately that won't mean they'll shut down the entire power plant. There's enough supply at the furnace to keep it running for a while. If we really manage to shut down the plant there'll be enough other plants to cover the shortage', according to Flip, one of the participating activists. The activists plan to stay as long as possible. They demand the cancellation of the construction plans for the new E.on coalpowerplant.
In the Netherlands five new coal-fired power plants are planned to be built. E.on is making a concerted effort to be the first company to start building next spring. E.on is also planning to build a coal-fired plant in Antwerpen, Belgium. These new power plants do not correspond at all with the climate-ambitions of the Netherlands and specifically Rotterdam to reduce CO2 emissions. Coals are the most polluting energy source possible, because apart from CO2, the emissions also include heavy metals, radioactive particles and other greenhouse gases. Because of this, building a new power plant makes sure any attempt to solve the climate crisis will never succeed. Besides, the building of new coal-fired plants interferes with the development of sustainable energy. The polluting sources fill the energy grid and sustainable development investments will only be used for carbon capture and storage.
The company E.on is running a PR campaign, using pretty words like 'Clean Coals' and 'the Capture Ready preparation' of the new plant to defend themselves. Both these terms have been proved to be based on nothing. The mining of coals is extremely polluting; so there is no such thing as 'Clean Coals'. Large partsof the Earth are being destroyed; there is severe pollution of water and soil in the mining areas of the United States, Columbia, Indonesia and South Africa. In the coalmines, miners are being exploited and annually thousands of people die as a result of disasters.
The term 'Capture Ready preparation' used by E.on is a fraud. A carbon-capturing power plant will use between 24 and 40 percent of its produced energy on the capture process. It must therefore burn more coal to provide the same amount of output energy as a non carbon-capturing power plant.
The type of plant E.on is about to build has proven to be extremely unsuitable for carbon storage. The fumes released by this specific type of plant contain many pollutants and thus are complicated and expensive to treat. E.on's promise to start capturing carbon 'as soon as it is technically and commercially viable' is therefore completely pointless and has only resulted in an empty spot on the blueprints, reserved for a future capturing installation.
So what if you cannot burn coals as an energy source? Flip: 'Besides the possibility of decentralised and actual sustainable energy, it is most of all necessary to use less power. Sustainable power has its limits as well. If we really want to anticipate the depletion of natural resources and the ensuing climatic disaster, we'll somehow have to find a different way of living that won't include dogmatic economic growth. Play more with less'.
The Dutch EarthFirst! action is part of the 'Shrink or Sink' campaign, fighting both the climate and energy crisis and rapidly decreasing bioversity. Direct action against the construction of new coal-fired plants is one of the main topics of the campaign.
Developments of the action
The blockade can be considered successful. After Groenfront! (EarthFirst) locked on to the conveyer belts at 9.00 this morning no coal could be moved into the power plant. E.on has arranged for a truck to move a small amount of coal to the plant.
Power plant management asked for a talk behind closed doors with the activists. The activists turned down the offer. They do want to talk, but in public and about on e.on's climate policy, building new coal plants. E.on refused this offer.
The first activists on the power plant were arrested around 14.45. By 15.30 the last climber had been arrested and the activists in locked onto machinery had been handcuffed to the machinery structures by the police.
The police has started to remove the people locked on to the machinery by 16.30. A special unit as been called in from The Hague.
Just before 18.00 the police had removed all activists from the machinery. Everyone that entered the area of the plant has been arrested. They have been charged with trespass, not abeying a police order and something else which is not clear yet. The outside crew has not been arrested. The activists have seriously hindered the operation of the plant from 9.00 until 18.00.
A series of pictures of the action can be seen at Dutch Indymedia
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