Romania destroys last free flowing river

The following has come to our attention, which we urgently want to share with our fellow Wilderness-minded audience.

Romania is currently destroying the last free flowing river, the Jiu River, in the Carpathian Mountains by building hydropower dams. The constructions are done within Defileul Jiului National Park, which makes the whole situation even worse. The story was brought to our attention by Călin Dejeu, also known as the Romanian River Defender. As a biologist and economist he has over 20 years of experience in environmental civil society, environmental NGO and the Ministry of Environment.

Illegal with EU environmental law

The Romanian government openly supports the construction of two water dams on the Jiu river and additional two on tributaries. And this is all financed with public money. With the dams in place, the hydrographic flow of the Defileul Jiului National Park will come to a standstill. The river system is supposedly the most protected water body in the river network of Romania.

The role of the Environmental Impact Assessments is questionable.

“In Romania most Environmental Impact Assessments are questionable. They are payed directly by the project owner, so in these “studies” you can read unbelievable lies. It is written whatever the project owner wants. In this particular Environmental Impact Assessment is written that diminishing the river flow with almost 90% has a positive impact on fish.”

The constructions of dams breaches four EU Directives in this particular case. Dejeu filed an official complaint to the European Commission, yet it did nothing in response until now. Together with big NGOs from Bucharest, two lawsuits were opened and lost, showing that “…going to Court in Romania is a lottery.”

Start of a new lawsuit

In need to continue his fight, Dejeu and NGO EuroNatur joined forces. EuroNatur financed the lawyer, enabling Dejeu to open another lawsuit this month.

“The Romanian authorities (and any [EU] member state) are not allowed to deteriorate the ecological quality of a river (actually of a water body) not even with a single class on one of the quality elements. The EU law is above any national law. But the problem is the implementation. The only way to stop a member state breaching EU law is to send a complaint to the European Commission, which then to start the infringement procedure. But the Commission seems to have other priorities than dealing with this worst infringement case of EU Directives I ever heard of. ” – Călin Dejeu

Dejeu also started a petition, with already more than 28.000 signatories. However, the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety of the European Parliament, refused to consider it. Find the petition here.

USA removes dams, EU builds them

While EU countries finance the building of dams, in the USA the opposite is happening. Despite having influential people who still deny the overheating of our climate, the United States are removing most dams and coffers systematically.

“An environmental crime, which would be inconceivable even in the most abusive regimes of the Third World, happens in an EU country, under the indulgent gaze of the European Commission.” – Călin Dejeu

Not only Romania is destroying its rivers. Dejeu visited the Mud river in Graz, Austria. Currently a second dam is build, despite all the protests. Shockingly the government claims these actions benefit nature, under the expression of being ‘Im dialog fit der Natur’. The first dam was build with EU funding, thus supporting the destruction of European rivers.

“At least in Romania the authorities are doing their dirty job in silence, they do not pretend to help nature by killing her. If a country like Austria can not learn from its mistakes, what hope there is to the corrupt and imbecile authorities in Romania?”

WILDRivers of Europe

The European Wilderness Society is concerned about these developments, threatening the last wild rivers of Europe. We are dedicated to the protection of the last free flowing rivers, using the European Wilderness Quality Standard for WILDRivers to identify, designate, steward and protect rivers. The developments in Romania show clearly that further action is needed to protect rivers like the Jiu.

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