Brussels, 16 October 2014
Environment: Commission takes Romania to Court over toxic tailing pond
The European Commission is taking Romania to Court for a failure to comply with EU legislation on mining waste (i.e. waste resulting from the extraction, treatment and storage of mineral resources and the working of quarries). The case concerns the Boșneag pond, a 102-hectare tailing pond that holds waste extracted from copper and zinc mines in Moldova Noua, Romania, and which is currently in a state of almost complete abandonment. The pond is a major source of pollution, spreading toxic dust that poses significant risks for human health and the environment. Romania had agreed to address the problem, but progress has been insufficient. Owing to the seriousness of the risk in this case, and on the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the Commission is taking Romania to the EU Court of Justice, with a view to ensuring faster remedial work.
The Commission opened infringement proceedings against Romania on this matter with a letter of formal notice in October 2012, followed by a reasoned opinion in February 2014. In reply, Romania agreed that the Boșneag pond remained a source of pollution during windy periods and recognised the need for remedial measures. While some measures have been proposed, including for example a watering system, no tangible action has yet been taken.
Under EU legislation, Member States are obliged to ensure that mining waste is managed without endangering human health and without using processes or methods which could harm the environment, and in particular without risk to water, air, soil, fauna and flora. Care must also be taken to avoid causing a nuisance through noise or odours and without adversely affecting the landscape or places of special interest. Member States also need to take the necessary measures to prohibit the abandonment, dumping or uncontrolled depositing of mining waste, even after the closure of a waste facility, taking every precaution to limit risks to public health and the environment related to the operation of mining waste processing facilities.
For more information on mining waste:
On this month's infringement package decisions, see MEMO/14/589
On the general infringement procedure, see MEMO/12/12
For more information on infringement procedures: