WOwing to a blockade of track and conveyor systems on the site of the Jänschwalde lignite-fired power plant by climate activists, the operator Leag temporarily shut down two power plant blocks on Monday. The environmentalists had penetrated the site of the power plant in the morning. The South Police Department was deployed with a larger contingent.
Riot police forces supported the police officers from the region. During the morning, several activists at the power plant were taken into custody. The police operation continued as of Monday afternoon. Brandenburg Interior Minister Michael Stübgen (CDU) condemned the blockade as an act of sabotage.
The "Involuntary Fire Brigade" group announced on Monday morning that around 40 people were on the site and were blocking, among other things, the coal bunker and the track connections to the power plant. "We are taking the coal exit into our own hands here and now," said local stakeholders. The lignite power plant in Jänschwalde is the third largest in Germany. The plant is about 15 kilometers north of Cottbus.
"Attack on security of supply"
The spokesman for the energy company Leag, Thoralf Schirmer, confirmed that activists were at the so-called Grabenbunker, where coal is stored. He spoke of an “attack on security of supply”. According to him, two blocks had to be completely taken off the grid because of the occupation of coal conveyors. According to Leag, half of the power plant was not in operation - which meant a reduction of one gigawatt.
In the morning, the police began to clear occupied areas. The first people were taken into custody, said police spokesman Maik Kettlitz. The operation is time-consuming because it is difficult to detach the chained climate activists from the tracks and conveyor systems. The police were initially unable to provide any information on the exact number of people on the premises. "It is clear that this is a criminal offence," said the police spokesman. Investigated for disruption of public services and trespassing. A protest should not be carried out at the expense of the energy supply.
Brandenburg's Minister of the Interior Michael Stübgen (CDU) condemned the occupation and called for severe penalties. “Anyone who intentionally puts others at risk for their worldview is not an activist but a criminal. The rule of law must react to this with severe penalties," Stübgen said on Monday. Peaceful protest is part of democracy. "However, the climate extremists must be stopped."
"No trivial offense"
Stübgen spoke of increasing attacks on the transport and supply infrastructure. These are not trivial offenses, but criminal offenses in which danger to the life and limb of bystanders is consciously accepted. “The end does not justify the means. That also applies to the climate.”
According to Leag, three out of four blocks are now back on the grid and producing electricity. A coal conveyor belt supplying the blocks is running again after police took activists down from a facility, the company spokesman said.
However, the performance is reduced because one block continues to fail due to the occupation of another conveyor system. Nothing can be achieved with radical means apart from disrupting the supply situation, said Schirmer. "At a time when everyone is worried about whether we can get through this fall and winter with enough electricity and heat, I think it sends the wrong signal to use force to shut down a power plant."
In a few days, two more power plant blocks in Jänschwalde, which are on standby, are to be reactivated for the energy supply. A corresponding decision by the State Office for the Environment (LfU) is still pending after examining objections to an exemption for restarting blocks E and F. The operator Leag had demanded that the two power plant blocks be released from the requirements for pollutant emissions. According to the company, the blocks do not meet the limit values. Retrofitting is not feasible in the time required.