Firstly on the prevention of air pollution from new municipal waste incineration plants, and secondly on the reduction of air pollution from existing municipal waste incineration plants. The Commission is basing its action on a report of the French Ministry for the Environment which shows that at least 12 French municipal incinerators do not comply with the conditions of these Directives, with problems including excessive dioxin emissions (see related story).

In order to ensure an effective protection of the environment, these Directives (Council Directive 89/369/EEC and Council Directive 89/429/EEC) set out requirements and conditions for the operation of new and existing municipal waste incinerators. These conditions include an obligation to comply with emission limit values for certain pollutants and appropriate combustion conditions.

Earlier this year, the Commission sent a Letter of Formal Notice to France for its non-compliance. In its recent response, France confirms the problems, while indicating that administrative steps are underway to bring about compliance by the end of 1999.

Given the continuing non-compliance and the need to ensure public confidence in relation to waste incineration, the Commission has decided to press ahead with a Reasoned Opinion (final warning before legal action is taken). The Commission says this decision is a mark of its determination to ensure that Member States fully conform to EU waste incineration requirements.

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