Norwegian row over industrial emissions

Official report reveals widespread breaching of environmental licences, few penalties

Publication of an interim report to Norway's environment minister has sparked claims of "serious weaknesses" in the country's efforts to protect the marine environment by national newspaper Aftenposten.

Produced by the auditor general's office, the report shows that in 1998, 252 industrial firms, representing 59% of enterprises granted emissions licences by the state Pollution Control Authority (SFT), reported that they had exceeded the terms of those licences. In routine spot checks, 41% of companies visited by SFT inspectors were found to be committing violations. In the public sector, of 86 municipal sewage plants inspected, 49 were found to have exceeded pollution limits.

Reporting on the findings, Aftenposten said that almost one thousand cases of illegal emissions by Norwegian companies had been revealed between 1995 and 1998. During the same period, only 14 fines were levied in pollution cases, and "not one single local authority has been reported to the police for these illegal discharges," the newspaper wrote.

Norway's environment ministry has disputed Aftenposten's claims. Ministry official Per Schive told ENDS Daily today: "There is no indication [in the report] that Norway does not follow up the [Ospar] convention. These are issues of priority and interpretation."

Follow Up:
Norwegian environment ministry +47 22 24 58 14; Auditor General (Riksrevisjonen), +47 22 24 11 74; Aftenposten, tel: +47 22 86 30 00.

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