Climate Protesters Removed From Ostrava Coking Plant

After negotiations with police, the last of the activists came down from the roof in the early afternoon. Photo credit: Freepik. 

Ostrava, North Moravia, Oct 8 (CTK) – On Saturday morning, climate activists from the campaign group Limity Jsme My entered the premises of the Svoboda coking plant in Ostrava-Privoz, in protest at the long-term polluting by its operator, the OKK Coke plant companies.

Before noon, Czech Police removed some of the participants from the plant to a police station in a bus for questioning.

The other part of the activist group remained on the roof of one of the buildings in the plant, blocking the loading station from where coke is transported by railway. After negotiations with police and representatives of the company, the activists finally came down from the roof in the early afternoon. 

The coking plant kept operating throughout, but with limited operation on its premises due to the protest. OKK Koksovny spokesman Jindrich Vanek told CTK on Saturday that he considered the protest pointless.

A police anti-conflict team and police patrols who were in contact with the firm’s security agency and its management arrived at the scene in the morning.

The police wrote on Twitter that there were about 60 activists in the plant, who refused to leave. Six activists climbed up a gas holder, but descended after the security agency pointed out the possible risks of this.

When the police then called on the participants in the protest to leave the area, only those who were providing the musical accompaniment did so. Riot police therefore subsequently came to the plant.

The environmental activists say OKK Koksovny ignores and minimises the pollution caused by the plant.

“We are here because we consider the coking plant to be one of the main reasons why people move out of the region,” protest spokeswoman Hedvika Stachovcova told journalists in the morning.

She added that the coking plant is actually a part of the fossil fuel infrastructure. “We want to close the coking plant. We want to replace the jobs in the coking plant with green jobs in more environmentally-friendly, more sustainable infrastructure,” Stachovcova said.

A spokesperson for OKK Koksovny said that a dispersion study commissioned by the City of Ostrava in recent weeks found that the plant’s influence on pollution was minimal. “We try to communicate openly with everybody, invest in pro-environmental measures and act as a good neighbour,” he said.

Vanek said the activists may find other targets in Ostrava that pollute the air far more than the coking plant. He said the data on the biggest polluters published by the Arnika NGO proved this.

The activists who entered the premises were dressed in white overalls, and carried drums and banners such as “For a Future Without Coal” and “Tax the Rich”.

Limity Jsem My said in a press release that apart from entrance to the plant, they wanted to block the loading station from which coke is transported by railway.

OKK Koksovny is the biggest producer of foundry coke in Europe. The company, part of the MTX Group of Petr Otava, has around 500 employees. In 2021, it produced 717,800 metric tons of coke.

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