Report highlights Europe's biggest polluters
A report reviewing the performance of EPER, the European Pollutant Emission Register, has been published this week, highlighting the fact that, for many pollutants, a high proportion of industrial emissions are caused by a few single plants.
The report reveals that just 2,780 pig and poultry farms are responsible for 76% of ammonia emissions into the air - a pungent smelling gas which is toxic to health and can harm vegetation.
Similarly, the chemicals industry is responsible for 49% of mercury emissions into water, followed by the metals industry with 19%.
As regards mercury emissions to air, the energy-generating industries are the biggest polluters with 31% followed by the chemical industry (26%) and the metal industry (20%).
The review suggests the "big polluters" should evaluate their potential for improving their environmental performance, and that they also check whether they comply with the 1996 Directive on integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC), which tackles pollution from industrial and agricultural activities. This directive needs to be complied with by October 2007 for existing installations.
As a result of the review, the EPER is being upgraded to a European Pollutant Release and Transfer register (PRTR) to provide more data, cover more pollutants, more industrial sources, more types of emissions and will be updated every year.
Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom said: "Having information about the quality of our environment constitutes one of our basic rights as citizens. It directly affects our quality of life and is a precondition for citizens' involvement in decision-making. The success of the first register proves how interested the public is in industrial pollution. It makes perfect sense to offer even more information!"
The upgraded register, PRTR, should go online in 2009 and cover 90 substances compared to the current 50, and 65 industrial activities compared to the current 56. It will also compile reporting of data from diffuse sources such as road traffic, aviation, shipping and agriculture.
By David Hopkins