The tallest free-standing structure in the Czech Republic is a 305-meter chimney built in 1977 at the Chvaletice power plant. 90 km from Prague the plant burns lignite, a moist, soft brown coal susceptible to spontaneous combustion and considered to be the most harmful to human health. In October of 2016, Greenpeace activists occupied one of the plant’s four cooling towers for three days and caused significant damage to its outer structure by drilling over 100 holes to hang two large protest banners.
Travelling by train, unkempt piles of volatile coal whizz by. Open storage bins in a parking lot, loose piles behind buildings. With my son in my lap I watch kids play nearby and I hope they too will leave as soon as possible.