Poland is one of the largest producers of coal in Europe and not coincidentally, also one of the continent’s most polluted countries. The Upper Silesian Coal Basin in Poland, where coal has been mined for more than 150 years, is thick with mines, steel mills, coke ovens and chemical plants.

Waste from these industries fills hundreds of dumps across the region. Smoke from coal-fired plants pollutes the air. Runoff from the mines has contaminated the groundwater, streams and lakes. Underground exploration has caused irreparable damage to the landscape. In Poland, 93 percent of the energy comes from burning coal?a major producer of greenhouse gases. Despite the reforms of the last decade, coal mining remains a dangerous and dirty business.

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