Take care! – Information about personal responsibilities and health risks for “Ende Gelände” actions

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 Lusatian lignite mining area.

We at Ende Gelände care very much for the security and physical integrity of all participants.
Therefore, we ask you to please take the time to familiarize yourselves well with all the dangers and risks in and around the coal mines, on the diggers, in the coal shelters, on the transport rails, conveyor belts and the power stations …

Here you can find a summary of the most important dangers and risks as well as recommendations based on our knowledge and experience from the past years.

However, keep in mind that you will be responsible for your own decisions.

Here is a summary of a few important points:

1. Fire

The coal reserves in the mine and in the coal shelters are highly inflammable: even a small spark can cause a smouldering fire and trigger an inferno profoundly threatening the life and health of many people!

Each cigarette butt can lead to a catastrophe! Open fires and any potential inflammables put you and everybody around you in great danger! 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

We want to block the trains and diggers together with hundreds of people. However, on our way we might encounter trains, lorries, long conveyor belts and other machines. They can be very dangerous when in operation: for example, pieces of rock and coal can fall off the machines and the conveyor belts.

Refrain from any actions on machines in operation. Instead, organise yourselves in your affinity groups within the “fingers” and plan how these machines can or could be effectively blocked.

3. Coal trains and track switches

Coal trains are usually quite slow, but have a very long braking distance due to their immense weight!
Some coal trains are pushed, not pulled. Therefore, the drivers have little chance to see you and any rail blockades that are erected in close proximity to the train.
Think carefully about your visibility and the braking distance of the trains and avoid ill-considered actions that could endanger you.
The switches of the rail system consist of movable parts. Please avoid those movable parts, as unexpected track switches can lead to serious crushing of body parts.

4. Overhead rail lines and power lines in the mining pit

The overhead rail lines carry high voltage. Climbing onto them without proper technical knowledge can be life-threatening. When carrying or mounting flags and big placards please maintain a generous secruity distance (over 1,5m) to the lines. Even without direct contact, severe electric shocks can be transmitted over several centimetres. Rain and wet conditions increase the danger. Even after a short circuit, the power lines can quickly carry high voltage again.

In the mining pit, you’ll find cables on the floor or near the conveyor belts. Avoid any contact with these cables, as they also carry high voltage. For this reason, any small defect in the insulation could make physical contact extremely dangerous!

5. All pit edges and the mining terraces can be dangerous!

Please avoid standing about in groups directly at the edge of the pit! Your weight may cause the pit edge to break away, resulting in serious falls or burials.
The pit edges in the mine differ greatly from one another: some can be traversed easily, but others are very steep, in some cases not even accessible on foot and there is a serious risk of injury. Land- and sandslides are a very serious risk. In particular, overhangs and steep edges are predestined to slip with severe falls as result. Depending on the weather there might be extremely muddy passages which can mean getting suddenly stuck up to the knee in mud. Since mining pits lie below groundwater level, water pumps are continuously in operation throughout the region.
The people leading the fingers (different groups penetrating the mine) are informed about the area and know which edges and areas can be crossed. 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!

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 who have been 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 are taking 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. Cold, rain, food and water supply

Make sure to be sufficiently prepared for the action and blockade. At this time of year, this involves bringing adequate clothing and protection against the cold and rain.

Please take sufficient supplies of water for drinking and if required for treating pepper spray.

Also make sure to bring ample supplies of food and warm tea/coffee for the duration of the action in order to brave the cold weather.

9. Securities, site and factory protection

The task of the security personnel is to protect the site. Not all of them restrict themselves to their legal powers. You have to reckon with beating, pepper spray and other forms of physical violence. Don’t move around on your 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 pressed later.

10. Location 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!
During the Lusatia action, a one-day blockade of the coal infrastructure is planned. Nonetheless, it is important to be prepared for a longer blockade duration. 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. You can find the self-conception of the paramedic groups on the Ende Gelände website (see Paramedics).
Unfortunately, paramedics can’t always be everywhere at once! 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” point where you will find peace and quiet and conversations with experienced people.

12. Under 18 year-old:

It is always important that every person (no matter how old) is sufficiently informed about the action and decides for themselves whether they feel well-prepared to go into the action. Nobody should overstrain themselves! For activists under the age of 18, a different legal basis must be considered.
Please inform yourself in the legal aid brochure take part in action trainings.

In General

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.
In case medical help is required urgently (e.g. short of breath or unconsciousness), call emergency service directly via “112”.