EU Commission takes Romania to Court over toxic tailing pond

The European Commission is taking Romania to Court for a failure to comply with EU legislation on mining waste. The case concerns the Bosneag pond, a 102-hectare tailing pond that holds waste extracted from copper and zinc mines in Moldova Noua, the Caras-Severin County, and which is currently in a state of almost complete abandonment.

“The pond is a major source of pollution, spreading toxic dust that poses significant risks for human health and the environment. Romania had agreed to address the problem, but progress has been insufficient. Owing to the seriousness of the risk in this case, and on the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik, the Commission is taking Romania to the EU Court of Justice, with a view to ensuring faster remedial work”, states a press release of the Commission.

The Commission opened infringement proceedings against Romania on this matter with a letter of formal notice in October 2012, followed by a reasoned opinion in February this year. Subsequently, Romania agreed that the Bosneag pond remained a source of pollution during windy periods and admitted the need for remedial measures. While some measures have been proposed, including for example a watering system, no tangible action has yet been taken.

Under EU legislation, Member States are obliged to ensure that mining waste is managed without endangering human health and without using processes or methods which could harm the environment, and in particular without risk to water, air, soil, fauna and flora, explains the same informing. Care must also be taken to avoid causing a nuisance through noise or odours and without adversely affecting the landscape or places of special interest. Member States also need to take the necessary measures to prohibit the abandonment, dumping or uncontrolled depositing of mining waste, even after the closure of a waste facility, taking every precaution to limit risks to public health and the environment related to the operation of mining waste processing facilities.

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