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European Commission - Press release

Environment: Commission urges Italy to comply with extractive mining waste rules

Brussels, 26 January 2012 – The European Commission is asking Italy to bring its national legislation into line with European norms on extractive mining waste. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the Commission is sending a reasoned opinion and asking Italy to comply within two months. If it fails to do so, the Commission may refer the cases to the EU Court of Justice.

The extractive mining waste Directive aims to prevent and reduce the effects of mining waste on human health and the environment. According to the Directive, an extractive waste facility needs to have an operational permit which includes a waste management plan. Facilities presenting a potential risk to public health or the environment are required to draft an internal and an external emergency plan to prevent major accidents and foresee their potential consequences on public health and the environment.

While many provisions of the Directive have been transposed correctly into Italian law, the Commission identified several shortcomings in a letter of formal notice sent to Italy in March 2011. The shortcomings are in areas such as making information available to the public, the treatment of excavation voids, maintenance after closure, and the sharing of information with other Member States in the event of accident. Italy informed the Commission that a draft decree modifying the national law was to be adopted by summer 2011, but the adoption process has been unexpectedly halted by the Italian Parliament and none of the shortcomings highlighted by the Commission have been resolved. Although the Italian authorities have agreed to adopt the necessary amendments, the changes have not been forthcoming. The Commission is therefore sending a reasoned opinion.

Background

The extractive mining waste Directive provides for measures, procedures and guidance to prevent and reduce the effects of the extractive waste management on human health and the environment. The Directive covers a large number of mining waste facilities including inert waste, hazardous waste such as red mud, or gold mining residue with cyanide; coal residue; uranium waste, and residues from land-based oil extraction.

Infringement proceedings are currently open against 8 Member States for non-compliance with the Mining Waste Directive. In addition to Italy, three of them, Hungary, Latvia and Poland (see IP/11/1289, IP/11/594 and IP/11/1275) have reached the stage of reasoned opinion. The other Member States have been sent letters of formal notice.

Further information:

For current statistics on infringements in general:

http://ec.europa.eu/community_law/infringements/infringements_en.htm

More details on EU extractive waste policy:

http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/environment/waste_management/l28134_en.htm

See also:

More details on EU waste policy:

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

MEMO/12/42

Contacts :

Joe Hennon (+32 2 295 35 93)

Monica Westeren (+32 2 299 18 30)


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