Parliamentary question by Maurizio Turco (NI) to the Commission and answer given by Mrs Wallström on behalf of the Commission
WRITTEN QUESTION E-0659/03
by Maurizio Turco (NI) to the Commission
(25 February 2003)
Subject: Seizure of a large number of enormous illegal waste dumps in Sicily and Directive 75/442/EEC
In the last few weeks about a hundred illegal waste dumps have been discovered in Sicily, including:
a) a dump containing waste of every kind, including special and hazardous waste, spread over five municipalities in the province of Messina, between the Monti Peloritani and the river Mela, close to a tourist area of great importance for the Region of Sicily and covering 225 square kilometres, equivalent to one hundredth of the surface area of Sicily;
b) a dump containing industrial quantities of special non-hazardous waste located in the municipality of Ribera (Agrigento) in the district of Mancusi, a protected geological site near the river Verdura, and extending over 65 000 square metres;
c) a dump containing 215 tonnes of railway sleepers, to be considered as special hazardous waste because they are impregnated with cresolates, located near the station of Megara Giannalena, in the vicinity of the municipality of Augusta (Syracuse) and covering an area of 40 000 square metres.
According to Article 7 of Directive 75/442/EEC(1) Member States are obliged to take the necessary measures to ensure that any holder of waste has it handled by a private or public waste collector or by an undertaking carrying out recovery or disposal, unless he disposes of it himself. If the identity of the holder is unknown (as in the case of illegal dumps), it is up to the national authorities to adopt the measures necessary to comply with the provisions of Article 7. The uncontrolled dumping of waste in the long term also constitutes an infringement of Article 4 of Directive 75/442/EEC, according to which waste must be recycled or disposed of without endangering human health and without harming the environment (European Court of Justice, Case C-365/97 - S. Rocco).
Can the Commission say:
- whether the Region of Sicily has received Community funding for the reclamation of areas in which illegal dumps were located and/or to create and manage controlled dumps;
- since the large number of dumps discovered, the vast areas involved and the volume of material dumped imply that for a long time there were no controls, what steps it will take in accordance with Directive 75/442/EEC?
(1) OJ L 194, 25.7.1975, p. 39.
Answer given by Mrs Wallström
on behalf of the Commission
(3 April 2003)
As correctly underlined by the Honourable Member, illegal landfills of waste could be relevant for the application of Council Directive 75/442/EEC of 15 July 1975 on waste(1) as amended and in particular of its Articles 4, 8 and 9. They could also be relevant under Council Directive 1999/31/EC of 26 April 1999 on the landfill of waste(2).
However, in the specific cases, not being aware of the situation described by the Honourable Member, the Commission will take the appropriate steps in order to gather detailed information about it and to ensure, within the limits conferred to it by the EC Treaty, compliance with Community law.
As the Honourable Member knows, on the basis of Article 211 of the EC Treaty, "in order to ensure the proper functioning and development of the common market, the Commission shall ensure that the provisions of this Treaty and the measures taken by the institutions pursuant thereto are applied".
Among the range of measures available to the Commission in particular in the context of its duties as guardian of the Treaty, infringement procedures pursuant to Article 226 of the Treaty might be initiated if the Commission considers that a Member State has failed to fulfil an obligation under Community Law.
As for reclamation of the contaminated sites, measure 1.4.2 of the regional operational programme for Sicily (2000-2006 programming of the Structural Funds) provides for action such as the identification and rehabilitation of polluted sites. The Commission's information is that no payments have been made under this measure to date; nor has any application been made for payment.
(1)OJ L 194 of 25.7.1975
(2)OJ L 182 of 16.7.1999
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