Estonian minister says oil shale mining volumes shouldn't be raised

TLMPM03: VKG AVAS OJAMAAL PÕLEVKIVI KAEVANDUSE:TALLINN, EESTI, 31JAN13. VGK avas Ojamaal põlevkivi kaevanduse. President Toomas Hendrik Ilves käis maa-all asjaoludega tutvumas. lt/Foto LIIS TREIMANN/POSTIMEES

PHOTO: SCANPIX

Minister of Environment Keit Pentus-Rosimannus said on Tuesday she doesn't consider it possible to increase the annual mining volume of oil shale in Estonia.

The Ministry of Environment is working on an oil shale development plan the central question of which is how to reduce the environmental impact from oil shale extraction, Pentus-Rosimannus said during a meeting with municipal leaders of West-Viru Courty.

"Eighty percent of our waste, water use and greenhouse gas emissions are connected with the oil shale industry. We must think together how to reduce the negative impact. With that as bottom line, I do not consider it possible for the annual extraction volume of oil shale to grow in the future," Pentus-Rosimannus was quoted by spokespeople as saying.

She added that the current annual volume of 20 million tons was close to the environment's tolerance limit.

The basic research for the oil shale development plan for 2016–2030 has already been completed, while the oil shale sector's impact on people's health and the socio-economic aspects related to the sector are to be examined separately. The ministry estimates that the development plan will be completed by 2015.

The minister emphasized the need to take into account the needs of the various groups of the population directly affected by the oil shale industry, including the municipalities in whose territory stocks are situated.

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