EC takes Romania to EU’s Court of Justice for failure to upgrade landfills

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In an effort to urge to speed up the process, the European Commission (EC) decided to bring the Romanian authorities before the Court of Justice of the EU for failure to close and rehabilitate 68 illegal landfills, which represent a serious risk for human health and the environment, a press release informs.

“Under the EU Directive, Member States must recover and dispose of waste in a manner that does not endanger human health and the environment, prohibiting the abandonment, dumping or uncontrolled disposal of waste. Romania was obliged to close and rehabilitate these substandard municipal and industrial landfills by 16 July 2009,” EC shows.

Despite earlier warnings and due to insufficient progress in addressing the issue, the Commission sent an additional reasoned opinion in September 2015, urging the Romanian authorities to adequately deal with 109 uncontrolled sites, which – although not in operation – still posed a threat to human health and the environment.

Some progress was made, but for 68 landfills the necessary measures – to clean them up and close them – had still not been completed by December 2016, Brussels officials point out.

Under EU law, only safe and controlled landfill activities should be carried out in Europe. The Landfill Directive lays down standards to protect human health and the environment, in particular surface water, groundwater, soil and air, from the negative effects caused by the collection, transport, storage, treatment and disposal of waste. It aims to prevent or reduce as far as possible negative effects of landfilling of waste over the whole life-cycle of landfills.

Similar measures have been taken against six other Member States: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Spain, Italy, Slovenia and Slovakia. The Court has issued already judgements condemning Bulgaria, Cyprus and Spain.

There are many different ways of disposing of waste. Burying it in the ground, known as “landfilling”, is the least environmentally sustainable and should be kept to the absolute minimum.

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