Katowice, Poland, January 2022.
The area where just four years ago the Wujek mine was still mining and storing around five thousand tons of coal daily. When the processing operation of the mine was closed, it moved to a different mine nearby, connected to Wujek by underground tunnels. As the closing of the processing and sorting sites is the first step to closing the mine itself, the employees speak about only quietly and without giving their names.

Katowice, Poland, April 2022.
Skrobisz Wojciech operates the underground railway on the level of 800 meter underground in the Staszic coal mine in Katowice. It transports people and small machinery utensils underground. The Staszic mine, six ears ago produced about 17-18 thousand tons of coal, and now it produces about 8 thousand tons of coal per day.

Katowice, Poland, April 2022.
The 4.5-meter-high coal face at the Staszic mine is slowly being prepared for closure. Mining on this longwall is expected to be completed within the next month. In addition to mining, the miners are also carrying out safety and closure work. The roof is being secured with metal blocks and wood.

Katowice, Poland, January 2022.
The areas of coal processing and sorting operations are now being cleaned by around forty employees who kept their posts to clean the area, recycle still operating machinery and close the site after this part of the mine’s activity was quickly closed in November 2021.

Ruda Slaska, Poland, April 2022.
Marta Pogrzeba who was one of the coordinators of the reconstruction of the lead-zinc heap in Ruda Slaska, shows the place where deposits of heavy metals contaminated materials used to reach. The heap, located in the middle of a housing estate between blocks of flats, a school and a shopping centre, was identified by the municipality of Ruda Slaska as the most pressing element of the landscape that negatively affected the lives of the residents. Attempts to demolish the heap proved too costly. Therefore, The Institute Institute for Ecology of Industrial Areas supported among others with consecutive European Union funds used the technique of photo remediation to contain the pollution underground. The soil was partially mixed with heavy metal retaining components such as brown coal and lime, and the plants sown were selected so that the pollutants would only remain in the roots. Heap was then adapted for recreational use by local residents. There are at least one hundred similarly contaminated heaps.

Bytom, Poland, April 2022.
Jacek Krzyzak and Michal Kotas cut energy crops, which after winter have the lowest humidity and are best suited for conversion into biomass. As part of a study to neutralise post-industrial areas heavily polluted by heavy metals, the Institute for Ecology of Industrial Areas is planting energy crops, which at the same time cleanse the soil of metals and are used to produce biomass. Poland still produces far too little biomass to reach the standards required by the European Union. The pilot field project is located next to fields used by local farmers to produce agricultural crops for human and animal consumption. This cultivated land exceeds the acceptable standard of heavy metal contamination for agricultural soils by four hundred times.

Jaworzno, Poland, 10 April, 2022.
The former excavation site of the cement factory "Szczakowa", for some time one of the largest in the world, is now revitalized as the Park Grodek arboretum. The project, which has been going on for over ten years, is one of the examples of revitalisation of post-mining areas in the Silesian Province. Today, the terrace overlooking the artificial pond in one of the post-mining basins is the point from which tourists take the most photographs in the region every year. The flooded basin is a testimony to how quickly the level of groundwater, underground and above-ground water jumps in the region depending on the operation of mines, the beginning and end of mining. The artificial ponds were created because of a mistake made by one of the heavy industry outlets. Then the flume was built above the water level. For several years, due to the closure of the mines in Trzebinia, about thirty kilometers from Jaworzno, the water level has been recovering and flooding the previously built infrastructure.

Jaworzno, Poland, 8 April, 2022.
Marcin Tosza, from Jaworzno. He has been working in the department of environmental protection of the town for the last twenty five years. He was one of the main initiators of the reconstruction of former Wrobisko Cementowni “Szczakowa”, now known as Arboretum and Parc Grodek, the greenest place in Jaworzno and its neighborhood. A biologist and forester, Tosza, pays special attention to plants and animal ecosystems, building and restoring particularly sensitive ones. As in this picture, the so-called galmatic grasslands are very rare and only found in a few places in Europe. The restoration of the grasslands in Grodek Park and the Jaworzno area was funded by the European Union.

Jaworzno, Poland, 8 April, 2022.
Chemical Plant Organika-Azot SA was operating in Jaworzno since 1917 until the late 90s. It was considered one of the biggest ecological bombs in Europe, and according to the European convention Helcom, one of the seven main polluters of the Baltic Sea. One fourth of all contaminants is still located near Jaworzno. The rest is being taken by underground rivers first, then onto the Przemsza and Vistula River and then straight to the Baltic Sea. The initial idea of purification of groundwater by bacteria turned out not to be strong enough. Now, the local government’s department of environmental protection is preparing for an implementation of a new idea, financed by European Union, and done in collaboration with the Checz Republic and Denmark. The polluted water is to flow through drainage ditches and be filtered by special containers, as can be seen in the photos.

Katowice, Poland, April 2022.
The municipal Police in Katowice during an intervention to check the quality of a coal-fired-oven in one of the districts of single-family houses. In the city, air quality checks are carried out with the help of specialised drones, which quickly take a sample and inform about the pollutants it contains and prohibited substances burned. Over the last few years, air quality has improved a lot in Katowice, residents are paying more attention to the fuel they burn, old ovens are also being replaced, largely with EU funding and in accordance with the 2017 anti-smog law. During the 2018 heating season, seventy fines and forty cautions were issued. In the 2021 season only nineteen fines and two cautions.

Katowice, Poland, 7 April, 2022.
The museum of Silesia in Katowice located in the buildings of a former coal mine; “Katowice”. As the only museum in Poland, it was granted the Green Key European ecological certificate for touristic institutions that comply with procedures designed to minimize environmental impact. The museum itself, located underground, is covered with a so-called “green roof”, a large green space especially important in the densely built-up and concrete city center of Katowice.

Jaworzno, Poland, April 2022.
A view of the Geosfera Centre for Ecological and Geological Education which was created on the site of a Triassic limestone excavation on Sadowa Góra. Before the final closing of the excavation in the end of the 90s, over the course of several decades, more than seven million tons of rock were excavated for the cement industry and for agricultural fertilizers, and the mountain turned into a 24-hectare cavern, revealing the remains of a Triassic sea from 230 million years ago. Today the site construction and archaeological research around it is largely funded by the European Union and is open to visitors and regularly hosts workshops and educational events on ecology, geology and geography.

Sosnowiec, Poland, 9 April, 2022.
Marcin Tosza and Damian Szykula together with a team of several amateurs of Kayaking. Every few years a cleaning of the river Biala Przemsza is organized in preparation for the opening of the kayaking season. This year, due to the final closing of mines in Olkusz, the level of the water dropped by seventy centimeters within only few days. The obstacles, which used to be deep underwater, are now blocking the passage. Even though the river is artificial, created to take water from the nearby mines, complete ecosystems were created in the surroundings of the river, which are now under threat.

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