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Ministry warns of problems in closing dump sites

Ljubljana, 21 October - Slovenia has still not closed eight of the potentially dangerous 21 dump sites it was ordered to close by the EU Court of Justice a year ago. The Environment Ministry says some delays in the procedures for closing down the sites are caused by non-responsive site operators.

Stara Gora
An abandoned dump site.
Photo: Rosana Rijavec/STA

Slovenia currently has 86 waste dump sites, of which 17 are active. Eleven of them are for household waste and six for industrial waste.

The court found at the end of November 2018 that the country failed to take appropriate measures in the case of 20 dump sites by June 2009 and one more site by July 2016 after environmental licences for the sites had not been renewed.

The EU launched the lawsuit in April 2017 because the abandoned waste sites pose a danger to the health of people and the environment.

The state said it planned to close seven of the sites by 2020, and one site - Suhadole - by 2022, Head of the Environment Directorate Tanja Bolte told the press today.

The closure of two sites, Jelšan and Dolge Poljane, was delayed by several months, but then inspectors paid a visit to the sites and issued decrees, so the necessary works before the shut-down should be conducted in April 2020.

The deadlines for the closing of the remaining sites are further in the future, and the state will monitor the implementation.

The ministry said the problem with closing Suhadole, which is now being run by the Komenda municipality, is that the land is owned by multiple private owners.

Ministry officials paid several visits to the municipality but failed to learn what will be done to close the site or when. "Now we will launch an inspection to close the site," Bolte said.

If Slovenia failed to close the sites, it faces a fine. In a similar procedure, Slovakia was slapped with a EUR 1 million fine plus EUR 5,000 for each day the ruling was not implemented. Italy and Greece had to pay EUR 40 million and EUR 10 million, respectively.

Slovenia is currently reporting on the situation to the European Commission every three months. If the Commission assessed the country is not making enough progress in implementing the ruling and meeting the deadlines it has set itself, a new ruling could entail a fine.

Meanwhile, Slovenia is still looking for a contractor that would pick up and take over the almost 700 tonnes of waste cemetery candles that have piled up in the yards of public waste collection companies.

The transportation of most of the several thousand tonnes of plastic waste that has accumulated there has been arranged and the packaging should be all but cleared by the end of the month.

Only the packaging collected by the company Publicus will not be moved because it is too dirty. The same problem is with candles, which have been dumped months or years ago, and are now wet and covered in dirt and sand.

New waste candles are being collected regularly, Bolte said.

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© STA, 2019