Take care! – Of yourselves and each other!
Information about personal responsibilities and health risks for the “Ende Gelände” action 2018
It’s great that we are all here! Coal mining is a massive danger to the life and the health of humans – globally as well as here in the Rhenish lignite area. We at Ende Gelände care very much for the security and physical integrity of all participants. Therefore we ask you to please look deeply into all the dangers and risks in and around the coal mines, on the excavators, in the coal shelters, on the transport rails, conveyor belts and the power stations … There will be recommendations based on our knowledge and experience, but you will be responsible for your own decisions.
Here is a summary of a few important points:
The coal reserves in the mine and in the coal shelters are highly inflammable: small sparks can cause a smouldering fire and trigger an inferno profoundly threatening the life and health of many people! Each fag end can lead to a catastrophe! Please keep that in mind and spread the information to everyone!
2. Any machine in operation (digger, conveyor belt, truck, coal train) poses a danger
Together with hundreds of people, we want to block the trains and diggers, but in making our way to them, we might encounter trains, lorries, long conveyor belts and other machines.
Refrain from any actions on machines in operation, but organise yourselves in your affinity groups within the “fingers”. Pieces of rock and coal can fall off the machines and the conveyor belts.
3. Coal trains and points
The coal trains are mostly slow, but very heavy and therefore have a very long braking distances! Some of the coal trains are pushed not pulled. The drivers have little chance to see you and possible rail blockades if you try stopping the train in close proximity to it. Think carefully about your visibility and braking distance of the trains and avoid ill-considered actions that endanger you. The points of the rail system consist of movable parts. Please avoid those movable parts because surprising point settings can lead to heavy squashing of parts of your body.
4. Overhead lines on rails and power lines in the pit
The over head lines above the rails carry high voltage. Without knowing the technical details climbing up can be life threatening. If carrying flags and big placards please keep a generous distance (over 1,5m) to the lines. Even without direct contact power can be transmitted over many centimetres. Rain and wet conditions increase the danger. Even after a short circuit the power lines can quickly carry high voltage again.
In the mines you’ll find cables on the floor or near the conveyor belts. Avoid any contact. They also carry high voltage and the insulators could be defective and therefore make each contact extremely dangerous!
5. All pit edges and the terraces of the mine can be dangerous!
Please avoid standing in groups directly at the edge of the pit! Your weight may cause the pit to break, resulting in serious falls or spills.
The edges in the mine are very different from one another: some can be traversed easily, but others are very steep, sometimes you can’t get across them at all and there’s serious risk of injury. Landslides and sandslides are a very serious risk. In particular overhangs and steep edges are predestined to slip with severe falls as result.
The people leading the fingers (different groups penetrating the mine) will know about the area and know which edges we can cross. If you are moving around in small affinity groups, be very careful. Wear sturdy shoes to avoid slipping. Only follow paths you’re sure about.
At night, the risk of slipping is even greater since safe pathways or access routes cannot be clearly identified! Depending on the weather there might be extremely muddy passages which can mean getting suddenly stuck up to the knee in mud.
6. In open-cast pit mining and in the coal shelters, the fine dust is probably the highest risk.
Dust inhaled will irritate the respiratory system, containing traces of toxic substances and radioactivity. There are people working in open-cast pits for years, being exposed to this dust day-in and day-out.
However, this one-off direct action, should not cause any bigger problems for otherwise healthy people. Either way, dust masks are a sensible thing to wear and will be available for you to borrow.
7. Higher-risk groups and pre-existing conditions
People suffering from asthma, chronic lung disease or cardiovascular disease are strongly advised against entering the pit. The same goes for people who are have gastrointestinal disease; immune deficiency; (past) cancer; or strong medication. These people have an important role to play in the protests and vigils near the pit edges.
Anyone who needs regular medication needs to bring it along in sufficient quantities!
8. Sun and heat, sufficient water supply
Make sure to use sun protection such as scarves, caps and high-factor sunscreen. We suggest you only apply fatty sunscreen (and similar substances) once the blockade is in place. Otherwise pepper spray or tear gas sticks to such creams, if the police uses them.
Dust protection overalls can protect you from getting too dirty, in hot weather, though, they can also add to the risk of overheating – in that case, better take them off. Please take sufficient supplies of water for drinking and if required for treating pepper spray.
9. Securities, plant protection
The task of the security personnel is to protect the site. Not all of them keep to their legal powers. You have to reckon with beating, pepper spray and other forms of physical violence. Don’t move around on you own. Don’t be unnecessarily provocative, stay calm and remind the security people of their responsibilities. If there are attacks, document them so that charges can be brought on later.
10. Place and duration of the blockade, overnight stays, lock-ons
This action can cause major stress for many participants, even if they are healthy. It is your responsibility, to define and agree for yourselves and your affinity groups how far you would like to go.
The longer the action, the higher the risk to your personal health. The place where the blockade happens is also important.
Your affinity group should go only where it is safe and okay to go for everyone in the group, and should stay only for as long as all of you feel comfortable.
Base your decisions on a consensus and watch that nobody asks too much of him-/herself!
In Ende Gelände actions, there may also be a long blockade of the coal infrastructure. If you are preparing to stay in your finger and affinity group overnight, pay attention to warmth (warm clothes, sleeping bags, “golden” isolating blankets) and seat pads (parts of isolating mats), see packing list.
If you use lock-ons to make it more difficult to clear a blockade, be sure to attend a training session prior to the action. Ensure that persons in lock-on are reliably accompanied by persons in their affinity groups who are not in lock-on.
11. Emergencies, paramedics, “Out of Action”
Take a first aid kit with you in your affinity group (see packing list). Take part in the first aid training at the camp (see camp program).
All off-road fingers are accompanied by paramedics walking in solidarity with them. Call them immediately in case of emergency. For the self-conception of the paramedic groups you can find information on the Ende Gelände website (see Paramedics).
Unfortunately paramedics can’t always be everywhere! Therefore: In acute emergencies (e.g. shortness of breath or unconsciousness) call emergency number “112” yourself and directly.
If people have to leave the action because they are aware of their limits or have had stressful experiences, provide support in your affinity groups. There will be an “Out of Action” starting point where you will find peace and quiet and conversations with experienced people.
The mine and its associated infrastructure are not a suitable place for children under the age of 16 to be in or around. Parents/custodians are responsible for them. Also and especially when it comes to children: make sure not to impose any expectations on others that would ask too much of them!
When making decisions within your affinity groups and meetings of representatives, make sure to consider carefully and responsibly the recommendations of the “finger tips” and the action planning.
This applies in particular for the way to the blockades and for decisions as to where and for how long we will run the action. You are responsible for your own decisions.