German coal plant exposed as Europe’s single worst air polluter

(EurActiv, 30 Oct 2018) The Niederaussem coal plant and mine, operated by RWE, was singled out as Europe’s largest hotspot for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) pollution, according to a groundbreaking analysis of new satellite imagery. London’s polluted air, caused mainly by transport emissions, comes second.

Fossil fuel burning – mainly coal and oil fired power plants and factories – as well as transport emissions, are responsible for the vast majority of air pollution across the globe, according to new research by Greenpeace.

The analysis is based on data generated by the new Sentinel 5P satellite by the European Space Agency, which has been providing unprecedentedly detailed and accurate data on NO2 levels in the atmosphere since 1 June 2018, the environmental group said in a briefing note.

In Europe, the largest NO2 hotspot is found around the Niederaussem lignite power plant and coal mine in Germany. The second largest hotspot covers the greater London area and is mostly linked to transport emissions, according to an interactive map put together by Greenpeace.

“With new satellite technology, polluters will have nowhere to hide,” Greenpeace said. “We have unprecedented ability to identify emissions sources damaging air quality and public health, even when regulators are not doing their job,” it added.

RWE rejected the study’s findings, saying the methodology only considered the location with the absolutely highest NO2 emissions within a 100 km radius. This, it said, “is an unacceptable simplification” for a region like North Rhine-Westphalia, which has a large number of NO2 sources coming from energy, industry and transport.

Emissions from RWE’s coal plants are all “well below all relevant thresholds” designed to protect the environment and human health, the German company said in e-mailed comments to EURACTIV.

External link

EurActiv, 30 Oct 2018: German coal plant exposed as Europe’s single worst air polluter