PALIKIR, Micronesia, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- The Pacific island state of Micronesia has challenged plans by the Czech Republic to expand a coal-fired power station some 6,000 kilometers away on the grounds that it could harm its environment.
At issue is CEZ Group's plant in Prunerov, one of the largest coal-fired stations in the European Union and the largest single source of carbon dioxide emissions in the Czech Republic.
"The Federated States of Micronesia is seriously endangered by the impacts of climate change, including the flooding of its entire territory and the eventual disappearance of a portion of its state," Andrew Yatilman, director of the country's Office of Environment and Emergency Management, submitted in the plea filed with the Environment Ministry of the Czech Republic, the Telegraph reports.
"The commissioning or retrofit of any large coal power plant could play a relevant role in the destruction of the entire environment of our state," the plea states.
In requesting a Transboundary Environmental Impact Assessment, a process originally designed to settle disputes between neighboring countries, Micronesia's challenge has the potential to set a new precedent as countries more vulnerable to climate change begin to seek redress in international forums.
The Czech Environment Ministry's verdict is expected within the next two weeks.
With the refit, the power station would keep operating until about 2035; otherwise it would close in 2020, a CEZ press officer told the New York Times.
Greenpeace, which is supporting Micronesia's request, demanded last month that the Czech Republic decommission the plant by 2016.
Jan Rovensky of the Czech branch of Greenpeace told Radio Prague in December Micronesia's request is "fully justified."
"It is not only some vague concern that the Czech Republic's biggest carbon dioxide polluter may contribute to rising sea levels -- it is a scientific fact," Rovensky said.
"Certainly the share of this particular plant is relatively small, but we should look at the whole picture and take into consideration the cumulative effect. I think this is a good start and hope that Micronesia will continue with other plans and other countries and other small islands will follow," he said.
In a Czech press conference Monday, Greenpeace and the Ecological Legal Service said CEZ is pushing through plans for a more polluting and less efficient power plant in order to save money.
But CEZ said it is convinced that the environmental assessment study will rule in its favor, since the planned modernization to accompany the extension will reduce the rate of carbon dioxide emissions, Radio Prague reports.