Groups fear slackening of hazwaste incineration standards

Negotiations on an EU Directive on Incineration are heading towards an upside down hierarchy of safety requirements, where rules for burning of hazardous waste may end up being more lenient than for household waste, according to the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), the European Consumers' Organization and the International Society of Doctors for the Environment.


The groups claim that the EU Member States are preparing for a decision in the June Environment Council that will be less strict than the proposal of the European Commission. That proposal had been criticized already for its weaknesses by the environmental movement and the European Parliament.

EEB particularly objects to plans to continue allowing the incineration of hazardous wastes in cement kilns with emission limit values and monitoring requirements that would remain less strict than the future rules for household waste incineration.

Besides the unequal treatment of hazardous and non-hazardous waste, the groups voiced a number of concerns relating to the aquatic discharges of incineration plants, which they say have also been severely „mistreated”. These include:

  • A request of the Commission’s proposal that forbids the dilution of waste waters resulting from the cleaning of exhaust gases has disappeared in the latest drafts.
  • Many emission limit values for heavy metals have been weakened or simply deleted.
  • Monitoring of dioxins and furans in waste waters would not be obligatory on a European level, „as long as no CEN/ISO measurement methods” exist – even though many Member States have already developed their own methods.

Environment Ministers hope to reach an agreement on the text at the next Environment Council in June. But if the revised text is approved there is likely to be a conflict with the Parliament, which voted amendments to tighten standards, notably for cement kilns, at its first reading (see previous story).

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