Spain tightens water pollution controls

New law on emissions of dangerous substances follows European court condemnation

The Spanish government on Friday approved a law tightening controls on the discharge of toxic substances into inland surface waters, an issue over which Spain was condemned by the European Court of Justice in 1998 (ENDS Daily 25 November 1998). Environment ministry studies indicate that the industries likely to be most affected by the new rules are chemicals, paper, leather, metallurgical and machine-tool manufacturers.

The new legislation deals with the control of 28 substances named in lists I and II of the EU's 1976 "dangerous substances in water" directive. It establishes new quality objectives for inland surface waters and creates new regulations to govern the discharge of specified substances.

In order to comply with the law, the Spanish environment ministry has undertaken to establish a more detailed and effective network for the testing and control of water quality. According to a statement, it will also conduct "an exhaustive reassessment of all previous discharge permits issued by Spain's regional hydrographic confederations for the named substances".

A ministry spokesperson was unable to say how much extra money would be spent on enforcing the new stricter controls. No deadline has been set for full implementation of the measures, although this is a requirement of the dangerous substances directive. The legislation does not cover toxic discharges to the sea because under Spain's federal system this is a responsibility of regional governments.

Follow Up:
Spanish environment ministry, tel: +34 91 597 6030.

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