SWEDEN: Contaminated land test case leads to refusal of export licence

A waste management company has been denied the right to export 5,000 tonnes of contaminated soil to the Netherlands, based on the rules of Sweden's new waste management strategy.


Ragn Sells Specialavfall, a Swedish-based waste management company, applied for a licence to export the soil, contaminated with pentachlorophenol, dioxins and heavy metals, from a Swedish sawmill for treatment in the Netherlands. The Swedish EPA has refused permission.

“The main reason is that we have a Government strategy on waste management that makes it clear that contaminated soil treatment should be seen as a disposal method and should be kept in the country,” an EPA official who drafted the decision told edie.

The decision is a test case, being the first of its kind since the introduction of the country’s national waste management strategy in March 1999.

The soil, contaminated by processes for weather treating wood, will now be treated in Sweden. “There is some capacity for treatment already in this country,” said the EPA official. Asked whether the decision means Ragn Sells Specialavfall will lose the contract to treat the soil the official agreed that it was a possibility, but had no knowledge of its likelihood.

Another EPA spokesperson told edie that Sweden is seeking to expand its contaminated soil treatment industry. “We’ve just had a competition to test eight techniques for treating this type of contaminated soil,” said the spokesperson. “There was a lot of interest from companies in the competition and Sweden has a lot of money for cleaning up industrial sites right now.”

Regarding the decision to deny Ragn Sells Specialavfall an export licence, the EPA spokesperson said that it was not a reflection on the company’s ability to deal with the waste properly: “They have quite a good environmental track record.”

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