Hungarian waste problems

20 March 2008

Illegally deposited and imported waste is causing a headache for Hungarian authorities, despite strict waste handling rules having been put in place. Although the actual amount of waste involved is unknown, some 1,000 sites around the country have been visited in an effort to discover those responsible for illegal dumping, according to a report in the Budapest Business Journal.

Of the 10,000 tons of waste examined, 34% consisted of demolition/construction waste, with on–site checks at waste disposal facilities revealing that only 41% fully complied with the existing regulations.

Vehicle inspections were also carried out as part of this inspection drive, with 12% of all vehicles checked failing to comply with the regulations.

The latest instance of illegal importation of waste occurred in December 2006, when 4,200 tons of waste from Germany was dumped at 19 sites across Hungary Negotiations with the German government have resulted in the latter committing to begin to remove half of this waste.

Illegal waste transport is proving a major issue in the EU. Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas is reported as saying: “inspections of waste shipments during recent years has shown high rates of up to 48% of illegal cases in large parts of the EU. In addition several serious incidents have occurred, such as those in the Czech Republic and Hungary.”

A EU Directive has been proposed to help protect the environment using criminal law. If adopted, this could mean that member states would have to consider illegal waste trans asport being criminal offences with, particularly serious instances resulting in a lengthy prison term and fines levied on the companies involved of at least €750,000.

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