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Brussels, 23 November 2006

Updated industrial emissions register reveals mixed results

The EU’s internet-based public register of industrial emissions to air and water, the European Pollutant Emission Register (EPER), was today updated with the latest emissions data from some 12,000 industrial installations across Europe. These figures – for 2004 – can now be compared with those for 2001 for a number of pollutants, installations, industrial activities or Member States. The Commission will carry out a thorough analysis of the data to see if new or modified emissions policy measures are needed. The data for 2004 for the first time covers installations in the ten new Member States. EPER, launched by the European Commission and the European Environment Agency in early 2004, has had more than 240,000 visits to its website in the first year alone.

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: “The EU emissions register is a valuable tool that allows all European citizens to analyse the polluting activities of industry. This second EPER report will enable policy-makers to evaluate pollution trends as a basis for future decisions on pollution prevention and control."

Prof. Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency, added: “In today’s Europe the public play an increasingly important role in environmental decision-making at a personal, local and national level. The EEA is working for access to environmental information for everyone so that they are better able to fulfil this important role. EPER is a stepping-stone in the right direction.”

Reporting pollution activities

EPER is a register of the emissions produced by large and medium-sized industrial facilities. It covers 50 air and water pollutants. The data in the register comes from facilities in all EU Member States.

EPER is publicly accessible on the internet. Anyone can search the register according to various criteria, such as the name of a specific industrial facility, its post code, address or location, by sector of activity, by name of pollutant, or using a combination of any of these.
The EPER website allows European citizens to make their own analysis of pollution activities in a specific country or in the EU as a whole. EPER also provides background information on the pollutants mentioned in the report and their impact on human health and the environment.

Mixed emission trends

The 2004 data on emissions in Europe were recently added to the register for all 25 Member States of the Union. Until now the register included only the 2001 data for the 15 Member States before the 2004 enlargement of the EU (EU-15), except for Norway and Hungary which reported data voluntarily.

The new input of information for 2004 makes it possible to compare data for the EU-15 countries which provided data for 2004 and 2001. Comparisons show that total emissions were generally higher in 2004 than in 2001. This may be because the 2004 data is more complete and includes more facilities.

A better basis for comparison is to look at specific facilities for both years. Examples of emission increases include greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, which rose by 9.0 and 8.5 %, respectively.

Emissions of air pollutants such as hydrogen cyanide and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons rose by 79% and 53% respectively. Water pollutants such as cyanides, phenols and mercury increased by 69%, 35%, and 52%. Again, such large increases may be real but could also be the result of more complete reporting in 2004.

There were improvements in discharges of pollutants to water. There were decreases in organic pollutants (-11%), phosphorus (-16%) and nitrogen (-14%), possibly because an increasing number of waste water treatment plants are being fitted with more efficient equipment. Reductions in air pollutants such as sulphur oxides (-11%) are the results of on-going efforts to switch fuels and to cut down the sulphur content of waste gases.

For 58 water and air pollutants the most polluting facilities have been identified: 43 are in the 15 old Member States and 15 in the ten new Member States. The main sectors of activity of these top polluters are the production and processing of metals (21), chemicals (13), energy (9), waste management (6), food processing (4), pulp and paper (2), and other sectors (3).

EPER review in 2007

A report reviewing the emissions register will be published in the spring of 2007. Following this review EPER will be replaced by the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (European PRTR). The PRTR's first edition is expected to be published in the autumn of 2009. This register will be more comprehensive than EPER since it will cover more than 91 substances emitted from industrial installations in 65 different sectors of activity, and from other sources such as road traffic, domestic heating and agriculture. It will also include transfers of waste and waste water from industrial facilities to other locations.

EPER website

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