Last update:

Żarnowiec Nuclear Power Plant, Pomerania, Poland

The biggest success of EJ in Poland during the political transformation. The apogee of opposition to the construction of Żarnowiec NPP was the blocking of the container terminal in Gdynia. The communist militia often used force against protesting youth.


Environmental protection was not on the list of priorities of the communist Polish authorities, which ruled in 1944-1989. During the years of intense industrialization, the subject of air and water poisoning was known only to a small group of scientists. In turn, environmental organizations operated practically throughout this period. However, they functioned to a limited extent, not exposing themselves to dignitaries [9].

See more
Basic Data
Name of conflict:Żarnowiec Nuclear Power Plant, Pomerania, Poland
State or province:Pomeranian Voivodeship
Location of conflict:Krokowa Commune
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Nuclear
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Nuclear power plants
Specific commodities:Electricity
Industrial waste
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The power plant was to consist of 4 units equipped with VVER-440/213 reactors (second generation), designed in the USSR and manufactured at the Škoda Pilzno plant in Czechoslovakia; 4K-465 turbine sets of Polish production (Zamech plant in Elbląg); GTHW-600 generators manufactured according to a Polish design (Dolmel company from Wrocław). VVER-440 was a Soviet version of the worldwide PWR reactor in which pressurized water was the coolant, moderator, and reflector, in contrast to the graphite-moderated RBMK reactors used only in the USSR, also in Chernobyl.

See more
Project area:70 (with construction facilities and supporting facilities, a total of approx. 180 ha)
Level of Investment for the conflictive project2,080,000,000 (as 1990 prices)
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:8 households (resettlements from Kartoszyno)
Start of the conflict:17/12/1990
End of the conflict:17/12/1990
Company names or state enterprises:Generalne Biuro Studiów i Projektów Energetycznych "ENERGOPROJEKT" (actually Energoprojekt Warszawa SA) from Poland - general designer
Przedsiębiorstwo Realizacji Budownictwa Energetycznego i Eksportu "ENERGOBUD" from Poland - general contractor
Przedsiębiorstwo Projektowania i Kompletacji Dostaw Obiektów Energetycznych "MEGADEX" (currently Elektrim-Megadex SA) from Poland - general supplier
Polskie Towarzystwo Handlu Zagranicznego "ELEKTRIM" (curretly ELEKTRIM S.A.) from Poland - importer of equipment from abroad (mainly reactor pressure vessels; steam generators for two reactors)
DOLMEL Wrocław from Poland - manufacturer of generators for power plant
ZAMECH Elbląg (curretly Zakład Mechaniczny ELZAM-ZAMECH Sp. z o.o) from Poland - manufacturer of turbines for power plant
Relevant government actors:- Council of Ministers (communist and non-communist)
- Ministry of Industry (communist and non-communist)
- Provincial Committee of the Polish United Workers' Party
- Provincial National Council
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:- Ruch Ekologiczny św. Franciszka z Asyżu (Ecological Movement of St. Francis of Assisi)
- Polski Klub Ekologiczny (Polish Ecological Club)
- Ruch "Wolność i Pokój" (Freedom and Peace" Mouvement) - disbanded in 1992
- Ruch "Twe Twa" ("Twe Twa" Mouvement) - disbanded
- Gdańskie Forum Ekologiczne
- Ruch Społeczeństwa Alternatywnego (Alternative Society Movement)
- Gdański Towarzystwo Naukowe (Gdańsk Scientific Society)
- Konfederacja Polski Niepodległej (Confederation of Independent Poland) - disbanded in 2018
- Federacja Antyatomowa Polska (Anti-Atomic Federation Poland)
- Stowarzyszenie Federacji Młodzieży Walczącej - FMW (Association of the Federation of Fighting Youth)
- Ruch Ekologiczno-Pokojowy „Wolę Być” (Ecological and Peace Movement "I Prefer To Be") - disbanded in 1993
- Federacja Zielonych (Greens Federation)
- Komisja Ochrony Środowiska i Zasobów Naturalnych Komitetu Obywatelskiego przy Przewodniczącym NSZZ „Solidarność” Lechu Wałęsie (Commission for Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of the Citizens' Committee under the chairman of NSZZ "Solidarity" Lech Wałęsa)
- Solidarność Walcząca Trójmiasto (Fighting Solidarity in the Tri-City)
- Klub Inteligencji Katolickiej (Catholic Intelligence Club)
- Zrzeszenie Kaszubsko-Pomorskiego (Kashubian-Pomeranian Association)
- Greenpeace International
- Liga Ochrony Przyrody (League of Nature Conservation)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Industrial workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Trade unions
Wastepickers, recyclers
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Youth organizations
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Hunger strikes and self immolation
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Potential: Air pollution, Genetic contamination, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Violations of human rights
Potential: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Migration/displacement
Strengthening of participation
Fostering a culture of peace
Project cancelled
Proposal and development of alternatives:On 2 and 3 June 1989, the protesters against the construction of EJŻ formed the Alliance for Alternative Energy, under which an alternative to nuclear power was sought in the spirit of the then fashionable "constructive opposition" [1]. However, no specific proposals were made.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:The activists' goal was achieved. The power plant was demolished and the nuclear development program in Poland was suspended. Yet, nuclear plans are revived from time to time in the country.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

[13] The team of the President of the National Atomic Energy Agency for the Żarnowiec nuclear power plant (1990). RAPORT W SPRAWIE ELEKTROWNI JĄDROWEJ ŻARNOWIEC
[click to view]

[14] RESOLUTION No. 204 OF THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS of 17 December 1990 on putting the nuclear power plant "Żarnowiec" under construction into liquidation.
[click to view]

[15] Ministry of Climate and Environment (2020). Poland's energy policy until 2040.
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Waluszko J. (2013). Protesty przeciwko budowie elektrowni jądrowej Żarnowiec w latach 1985–1990 (Protests against the construction of the Żarnowiec nuclear power plant in 1985–1990). Gdańsk: IPN.
[click to view]

[2] Kiełbasa W. (2019). How it happened with “Żarnowiec” – a reflection in 30 years after construction stoppage. Part 1 – since the very beginning till construction halting, Postępy Techniki Jądrowej, no. 2, pp. 2-13.
[click to view]

[3] Dulewicz J. (2017). Postawy i reakcje polskiego społeczeństwa wobec zanieczyszczenia środowiska naturalnego w kraju (1971–1989) (Attitudes and reactions of Polish people to natural environment pollution in the country (1971–1989)), Polska 1944/45 - 1989, no. 15, pp. 79-96.
[click to view]

[4] Szulecki K., Borewicz T., Waluszko J. (2017). A Brief Green Moment: The emergence and decline of Polish anti-nuclear and environmental movement', Interface, vol. 7, np. 2, pp. 27–48 .
[click to view]

[5] Wąsowicz J. (2012). Niezależny ruch młodzieżowy w Gdańsku w latach 1981–1989 (Independent youth movement in Gdańsk in the years 1981–1989). Gdańsk: Europejskie Centrum Solidarności.
[click to view]

[8] Piotrowski G. (2017, April 25). Żarnowiec-grobowiec. Opozycja ekologiczna w Polsce i kampania antynuklearna (Żarnowiec-tomb. The environmental opposition in Poland and the anti-nuclear campaign).
[click to view]

[9] Michałowicz L. (2013, October 4). Wielka budowa, wielka katastrofa i wielka niewiadoma – spór o Żarnowiec (A great construction site, a great catastrophe and a great unknown - the dispute over Żarnowiec). Pomorski Przegląd Gospodarczy.
[click to view]

[10] Melańczuk M. (2019, February 29). Protesty (Protests). Blog EJ Żarnowiec.
[click to view]

[11] Jezierski G. (2006, January). Kalendarium budowy elektrowni jądrowej w Żarnowcu, czyli... jak straciliśmy swoją szansę? (Calendar of the construction of the nuclear power plant in Żarnowiec, or ... how did we lose our chance?).
[click to view]

[12] Energetyka Jądrowa website (2014, January 12). EJ Żarnowiec 1982-1990 (Żarnowiec NPP 1982-1990).
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[6] The Żarnowiec nuclear power plant in 1990 - reasons for the construction discontinuation. WysokieNapię YouTube account.
[click to view]

[7] Nuclear power plant in Żarnowiec. Sorengreen YouTube account.
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Maciej Kałaska, [email protected] Faculty of Geography and Regional Studies, University of Warsaw
Last update03/06/2022
Conflict ID:5901
Legal notice / Aviso legal
We use cookies for statistical purposes and to improve our services. By clicking "Accept cookies" you consent to place cookies when visiting the website. For more information, and to find out how to change the configuration of cookies, please read our cookie policy. Utilizamos cookies para realizar el análisis de la navegación de los usuarios y mejorar nuestros servicios. Al pulsar "Accept cookies" consiente dichas cookies. Puede obtener más información, o bien conocer cómo cambiar la configuración, pulsando en más información.