GB No. 5-6, summer-fall 1991



The Czorsztyn dam lays on the Dunajec river, in the Pieniny Mountains in the south-east of Poland. The upper reservoir will have 234 million m3 and 13 km3 , and the lower one (regulation one) 8 million m3 and 0,8 km3. Thmain dam is 400 m long and 53 m high. An electric power plant with 100 MW is being planned.

There have been projects to build a dam in Czorsztyn on the Dunajec river since the beginning of the century. It was first conceived as a power plant dam, then after the big flood in 1934 one began to think about the goals of regulation. Nothing has been done except some geological tests until 1964, when the Council of Ministers Economic Comitee decided the exact localization of the dam in Czorsztyn. The government and the parliament decided to start the building in 1966. The building started in... 1976. Since then, the finishing date has been postponed by the state many times, currently to 1995. 10% of the budget for the 60 central-administration investments is being spent in Czorsztyn alone (289 milliard [am. billion] zlotys in 1991, 1997 milliard [am. billion] zlotys for 1991 - 1995).

Very much has been destroyed. The river bed has been fully dug, the Dunajec valley is crossed by a huge concrete wall. Two nature reserves and a part of the Pieniny National Park are lost, as well as numerous historical wooden houses (turn of the XIX and XX centuries). The social fabric of several villages and the region has been destroyed by transportation into completely different set-ups.

Filling up the lake will have further catastrophic consequences. Much of land will be lost. The microclimate caused by the water mass of the lake will disturb the whole local ecosystem, damaging numerous endemic species. The dam itself will not be safe and will threaten to crash down, because of the exceptionally weak geological structure of the rocks on which it is built. Further danger is that the two mediaeval castles of Czorsztyn and Niedzica will be underwashed by the lake water and could fall down into the water...

The investor - the Ministry of Environment! - itself admits that the locating of the dam in Czorsztyn was a mistake.

25 years after the building has been decided on, its goals still are not fixed! None of the arguments used to justify the project are relevant:

The investor last argument seems to be that "one has to build farther, because so much has been already destroyed and so much has been already invested". This is a typically technocratic way of thinking. How can such enormous costs and destructions be used to justify farther ones? It is never too late to stop a nonsense!


Against the dam, which is only the ambition of technocrats, there have been protests of scientists, ecologists and local population. But these formal protests could only influence the dam project, but never had the strength to stop it. Only mass movements using direct action opened up a chance of success.

During the summer 1990, following an appeal of the Polish Anarchist Federation (Federacja Anarchistyczna) and the Freedom and Peace movement (ruch Wolno¶ć i Pokój) 300 persons have taken part in two successive blockades at the Czorsztyn dam building site.

They demanded:

  1. To stop the building of the dam;
  2. To recultivate the dam area;
  3. To repair the damage caused to the local population.

The first blockade took place from the 15th to 22nd of July. The whole week long, we efficiently disturbed the construction works by sitting in front of the lorries across the roads to the gravel-pits and the machines park. The construction management estimated its losts to 97 million zlotys. It came to some conflicts with the workers of the dam, but we could link up contacts with the people living in Czorsztyn and nearby. The police did not show up.

At the next blockade from the 26th to the 31st of August, the police intervention was massive. 500 policemen, 80 vehicles, Prevention Units from Kraków, Rzeszów and Katowice and the antiterrorist brigade. They even brought an armoured transporter and a water canon. Neither the navy nor the airforce come (ha, ha!). Despite our inferiority in number (5 policemen for each protester) we managed to hold several blockades every day, each time brutally dispersed by the police. The action took place with the assistance of press and television.

Thanks to the "Tama tamie '90" actions, the Czorsztyn dam became a well known and discussed problem throughout the country. As well, friendship and cooperation contacts made in Czorsztyn will serve the integration of libertarian, ecologist and alternative movements in Poland.

The summer 1990 blockades have not been enough to convince the authorities how crazy the building of the dam is. So the fight continues. We made many other protests, occupation, blockades, petition lists to authorities, we talked with the people from the Ministry of Environment and the Minister personally (unfortunately unproductively), etc.

Contacts for information, or announcing your coming:

and last but not least:

GB No. 5-6, summer-fall 1991 | Contents