Greece Ordered to Pay Daily Fine for Toxic Waste Discharge

July 07, 2000

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg has ordered Greece to pay a fine of 20,000 Euros (US$19,056) each day it delays in shutting down a waste disposal plant discharging toxic waste on the island of Crete.

The daily penalty, which began on July 5, is the first one the Court has issued upon a European Union member state for refusing to comply with one of its judgments. The 1992 judgment ordered the plant to stop discharging wastes into a ravine on Crete close to the Mediterranean Sea.

Commission Spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde said the court's decision is a landmark ruling. "It is very serious because it is about waste and toxic waste and ultimately the consumer's health," Ahrenkilde said.

Several municipalities on Crete complained to the European Commission in 1987 about uncontrolled waste disposal into the river Kouroupitos, 650 feet from the sea. The waste, coming from military bases, hospitals and industry, would self-combust and burn or be washed into the sea.

The Court judged in 1992 that Greece was contravening two EU laws by failing to deal with the toxic and dangerous waste. The Commission reminded Greece to comply with the judgment in 1993.

(Source: Environment News Service)

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