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IP/10/1402

Brussels, 28 October 2010

Environment: Italy faces Court for failing to implement EU law on waste

The European Commission is referring Italy to the European Court of Justice for failing to implement a Court ruling from 2004 concerning landfills near Milan. The landfills in question are known to contain some hazardous waste, and are a threat to local water and air. Six years after the Court ruling, one landfill has been removed, but two others concerned by the ruling have not yet been cleaned up. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the Commission is taking Italy back to Court and asking for fines to be imposed.

The Commission is taking Italy back to the EU's Court of Justice for its failure to comply with a 2004 ruling on the clean-up of three landfills containing industrial waste in the municipalities of Rodano and Pioltello (in the Lombardy Region of North Italy), on a site formerly owned by a chemical company.

In September 2004, the European Court of Justice found Italy to be in breach of European waste law in relation to three landfills, some of which contain hazardous waste. The landfills concerned have been known to pose a threat to human health and the environment since 1986, and in 1999 emergency groundwater protection measures were brought in to maintain the local water table at an artificially low level to avoid water contamination. The waste in the landfills is also a threat to air quality.

According to the most recent information available, six years after the ruling, only one landfill has been cleaned up. The majority of the waste in the second landfill has yet to be removed, and the clean-up of the third landfill has just begun. The Italian Authorities now foresee the completion of the works by March 2011 at the earliest. As it is clear that the Court ruling has not been complied with, the Commission is referring the case back to the European Court of Justice.

With today's decision, the Commission is asking the Court to impose fines composed of a daily penalty payment of 195,840€ from the date of the second Court ruling until compliance with the decision, and a lump sum corresponding to 21,420€ per day from the date of the first Court ruling until the second Court ruling. This is in accordance with Article 260 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU.

Background

Directive 2006/12/EC) is a key instrument to protect human health and the environment from the negative effects caused by the collection, transport, storage, treatment and disposal of waste. The Directive obliges Member States to dispose of waste without endangering human health and without harming the environment.

For current statistics on infringements in general see:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/legal/implementation_en.htm

MEMO/10/530


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