PCBs are toxic, persistent in the environment, and accumulative in living tissues. Their manufacture has been banned in the EU and they can now only be used in restricted circumstances. But quantities of PCB are still widespread in various electronic products and some coatings, lubricants and adhesives.
Under the directive, member states should have produced inventories of equipment containing PCB volumes above five cubic decimetres and drawn up decontamination or disposal programmes to deal with them by September last year. They also have to send the Commission outline plans of how they will collect and dispose of all other products containing PCBs which are not on the inventory. The law's aim is to "eliminate PCBs entirely".
The Commission says that although a number of states have sent it "certain information" contributing towards the directive's requirements, only Finland has fully complied with them. The other 14 governments will be sent a "formal notice" of legal action - the first of two warning letters that the Commission must deliver before it can launch actions in the European Court of Justice.
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