The Vistula River Crossing in Poland
This case study examines the environmental damage caused by the construction, between 1998 and 2000, of the Yamal Western Europe gas pipeline where it crosses the Vistula River in central Poland. Because damages occurred in the past, an ex post perspective is used to quantify the environmental damage. This case study is provided for illustrative purposes only. The Environmental Liability Directive does not apply retrospectively to any damage caused before 30 April 2007. The Yamal Gas Pipeline damaged protected habitats during its two year construction period. Terrestrial damages were caused by excavation and associated disturbance. Replanting following construction limited interim losses. Aquatic damages were caused by excavation of the riverbed, deposition of excavated dredge spoils into the channel, and sedimentation from the excavation and deposition processes. No primary remediation action was performed for the aquatic environment. Equivalency analysis in this case study was used to calculate the debits (damages) both for a primary impact zone caused by excavation, and a secondary impact zone associated with disturbance. The use of habitat scalars enabled us to normalise damages to index habitat types. Compensatory remediation projects were selected to benefit riparian forest and shallow-water habitats. For riparian forest remediation, two alternatives were deemed feasible: replanting and preservation. The preservation alternative generated slightly more benefits than the replanting alternative, but benefits were highly sensitive to the estimated annual probability of development of the forest to be preserved. For aquatic remediation, in-stream channel improvements were scaled as the preferred alternative.
KeywordsHabitat scalar Gas pipeline Terrestrial damage Aquatic damage Poland
The study team thanks Sandy Luk, Professor Andrzej Przystalski, Dr. Wiesław Cyzman, Dr. Krzysztof Kasprzyk, and Dr. Eng. Wiesław Wiśniewolski for expertise, advice, and support.