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Estonians protest open-pit mine plan at 'Witch's Well'

BC, Tallinn, 29.04.2010.Print version

Tens of thousands of Estonians have protested plans for a huge open-pit limestone mine in a marshland popular with tourists and boasting a unique spring dubbed the Tuhala Witch's Well, informs AFP/LETA.


The planned mine "would cause great damage to nature, including the destruction of Tuhala Witch's Well, known among nature lovers all over Europe," protestors say on their website.


An Internet petition against the mine posted on the site has attracted more than 57,000 signatures – a significant number in Estonia, a Baltic nation of 1.3 million.


Protesters want the area, which is state property, to be turned into a nature reserve, banning any future mining activity. Local residents also fear for their fresh watter supplies.


Estonia's Academy of Sciences has also called for a thorough study of the environmental impact of the planned limestone quarry on the site.


But the mine's proponents say the protesters are over-reacting.


"I think those who make a lot of noise about it overestimate the danger," Boris Oks, deputy director Paekivitoode Tehas limestone factory Paekivitoode that is behind the open-pit project told AFP.


Estonia would be forced to import limestone from Finland and Sweden in the coming decade should the new limestone quarry not be created, he said.


A much-loved tourist attraction, the Witch’s Well of Tuhala is a mysterious spring which erupts erratically, usually in the spring when snow melts or when heavy rains drench the earth.


Geologists believe it is linked to an extensive network of subterranean rivers spanning the region, creating dangerous sink-holes.


As soon as it begins to churn out copious amounts of water, Estonians and visitors from abroad descend on the Witch's Well in Tuhala, located 40 kilometres (miles) from Tallinn.

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