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Environment: Greece asked to comply with waste and waste water legislation

Commission Européenne - IP/12/537   31/05/2012

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European Commission - Press release

Environment: Greece asked to comply with waste and waste water legislation

Brussels, 31 May 2012 – The Commission has asked Greece to improve its treatment of waste water and the functioning of a landfill facility. Twelve areas in Greece fail to treat their urban waste water to sufficient standards and a landfill site in Kiato is operating inadequately – this constitutes a serious threat to public health and the environment. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the Commission is sending two reasoned opinions to Greece, asking for the correct implementation of the relevant legislation. If Greece fails to reply within two months, the Commission may refer the case to the EU Court of Justice.

The first case concerns waste management in the Peloponnese, specifically, the inadequate functioning of the Kiato landfill. Applicable EU legislation – the Landfill Directive – imposes stringent technical requirements for waste and landfills. According to various on-site inspections, the Kiato landfill is operating very poorly, without a permit and in breach of the EU legislation, creating a serious threat to health and the environment.

The Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWT) is intended to ensure that human and industrial waste do not adversely affect human health and the environment. A 2009 report submitted by the Greek authorities showed that urban waste water in Prosotsani, Doxato, Eleftheroupoli and Vagia was not subject to the secondary treatment required by the Directive, and that in eight other agglomerations the discharges from the respective waste water facilities did not satisfy requirements.

The Greek authorities recognize the existence of a problem in both cases and are trying to address it. Nevertheless, the necessary measures have still not been taken and so the Commission is formally asking Greece to correct both situations.

Background

Directive 99/31/EC on the landfill of waste is a key instrument to prevent or reduce as far as possible negative effects on the environment from landfilling of waste, during the whole life-cycle of the landfill, and to protect human health and the environment from the negative effects caused by the collection, transport, storage, treatment and disposal of waste.

The UWWT Directive requires waste water to be collected and treated in any area that generates the water pollution equivalent of a settlement of above 2000 people. There are almost 23,000 such areas in the EU 27, producing a total waste water pollution load of about 550 million population equivalents. According to article 4 of the Directive, urban waste water should undergo secondary biological or equivalent treatment before entering collecting systems. These discharges should also satisfy certain requirements (as described in section B of Annex I).

For current statistics on infringements in general see:

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

See also:

Europa on Landfill:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/landfill_index.htm

Europa on urban waste water treatment:

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/water/water-urbanwaste/index_en.html

MEMO/12/387

Contacts :

Joe Hennon (+32 2 295 35 93)

Monica Westeren (+32 2 299 18 30)


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