Report: Oil Shale Continues to Take Heavy Toll on Environment ({{commentsTotal}})

Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

There has been no progress in reducing the amount of environmental waste produced by the oil shale industry in recent years, according to a report on the implementation of the government's development plan.

On Thursday, the Cabinet began drafting its oil shale development plan for 2016-2030, with the priority being the reduction of negative environmental impact, according to a press release.

The oil shale industry, which produces the bulk of Estonia's energy, is responsible for about 80 percent of the pollution and carbon emissions produced by Estonia, as well as nearly all of the sulfur emissions. Quarries and landfills have also spoiled around 15 percent of Ida-Viru County's territory, as 150 square kilometers of land has sunk or become unstable.

Estonia currently mines around 20 million tons of oil shale annually. Any increase to that volume would have a devastating effect, according to Minister of the Environment Keit Pentus-Rosimannus.

"That would be too much for our environment. But we should carefully consider where it would be most reasonable to use oil shale, to provide as much added value as possible,“ she said.

The Cabinet decided yesterday to allocate an additional 4.7 million euros to extinguish a smoldering, six-hectare semi-coke pile in Kohtla-Järve, where work is currently halted. Efforts to close down and clean up an additional 80 hectares are under way. The overall cleanup project has a budget of around 38 million euros.

The Cabinet discussed fair pricing, resource distribution and the mining licensing system, the last issue having recently been raised by the Competition Authority as one in need of an overhaul.

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