Brussels, 23 January 2014
Environment: European Commission takes Slovenia to Court for pollution problems from waste disposal
The European Commission is taking Slovenia to Court for its failure to comply with the requirements of EU waste legislation. The Commission's concerns relate to two illegal landfills containing hazardous waste, one near the centre of Celje, and another in nearby Bukovzlak. Landfills operating in breach of EU waste legislation can be a serious threat to human health and the environment. Slovenia had agreed to address the problem, but slow progress has led the Commission to call Slovenia before the EU Court of Justice.
The case concerns large quantities of polluted soil originating at a 17-hectare contaminated brownfield site in Cinkarna, Celje, Slovenia's third largest town. The waste is being stored at two sites, one only 500 metres from the centre of Celje, and the other in nearby Bukovzlak. High levels of toxic heavy metals have been detected at both sites.
The Commission opened infringement proceedings on the matter in November 2012, with a reasoned opinion following in June 2013. Slovenia subsequently recognised the scale of the problem in Bukovzlak and the need to address it. The Commission was informed that various methods of removal are being considered for both Celje and Bukovzlak, and a timetable for clean-up and removal has been provided. That timetable has not been respected however and in view of the length of the breach, the presence of heavy metals in the landfills and the serious risk they present for human health and the environment, the Commission has decided to call Slovenia before the Court of Justice.
This infringement concerns breaches of the Waste Framework Directive and the Landfill Directive. The EU Waste Framework Directive sets the legal basis for waste treatment in the EU. It introduces waste management principles such as the "polluter pays principle" and lays down a binding hierarchy for managing waste. It obliges Member States to take measures to ensure that waste management is carried out without endangering human health and without harming the environment. Waste is to be treated without risk to water, air, soil, plants or animals, without causing a nuisance through noise or odours, and without adversely affecting the countryside or places of special interest.
Under the Landfill Directive, landfills must meet certain conditions in order to operate. The legislation aims to protect human health and the environment from the negative effects caused by the collection, transport, storage, treatment and disposal of waste.
For more information:
For details about EU waste legislation in general, see:
On the January infringement package decisions, see MEMO/14/36
On the general infringement procedure, see MEMO/12/12
For current statistics on infringements in general see:
For more information on infringement procedures see: