After examining the harmful effects that extracting and burning coal have on human health and the environment, Greenpeace Bulgaria has drawn attention to the support that the coal sector receives. The focus of this report is the direct and indirect ways the state supports, keeps and prolongs the existence of a sector that belongs to the past.
The first two reports of Greenpeace Bulgaria (“The Suffocating Grip of Coal“ and „Water for Life or Water for Coal“) have demonstrated that coal and its burning to produce electricity are among the main air and environmental polluters. Bulgaria produces 40% of its electricity from coal which makes it dependent on this relatively cheap but low-quality domestic resource. At the same time Bulgaria takes the leading places in air pollution with fine particulate matter one of main sources of which is coal-fired power plants.
Health and environmental damages caused by the coal sector have enormous price tag for the society but remain ignored by the state. 2013 data from HEAL (Health and Environment Alliance) shows that as a direct result from the air pollution (with fine particulate matter, heavy metals) every year more than 920 Bulgarians suffer from chronic bronchitis, 600 get hospitalized due to respiratory or cardiovascular symptoms, and 2000 die due to air pollution. Based on information from the same report, the cost of health due to the pollution from just once source – coal-fired power plants in the country amounts to 4.6 billion euros per year.