Wider EU water pollutant phase-out demanded

Number of chemicals to be prioritised for control should be expanded from 32 to 39, says MEP

The European Parliament's environment committee is to call on the European Commission to rethink a draft list of priority substances to be controlled under the newly-agreed EU water framework directive. Rapporteur MEP Hiltrud Breyer and chairman Caroline Jackson say a rewrite is necessary to reflect last minute changes to the directive text, which was finalised well after the priority list was proposed. Ms Breyer says it should include more substances.

The Commission's list of 32 substances was drawn up in response to an article in the new directive which says that emissions of substances posing a "significant risk to or via the aquatic environment" should be "progressively reduced". The requirement represents the EU's interpretation of the 1998 "Sintra" commitment by Ospar parties and was arrived at after long argument between the parliament and environment ministers (ENDS Daily 24 February).

Late in the negotiations, however, a new class of substances was introduced. Known as "priority hazardous substances," these were to be drawn from the Commission's priority list and subject to stricter controls - a phase-out within twenty years. The directive gives little indication as to how this second list is to be drawn up; Mrs Breyer says the Commission's proposal is now redundant and must be redrafted to take account of the changes. She also says the methodology used to create the list has led to several important chemicals escaping the Commission's attention.

In a report for the committee, she suggests adding seven substances to the priority list: decylphenol, dicofol, hexamethyldisiloxane, hexachlorocyclopentadiene, methoxychlor, P-tert-butyltoluene and Tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBA). Of the resulting expanded priority list of 39 substances, the German Green says 28 should be classified as priority hazardous chemicals.

Follow Up:
European Parliament environment committee, tel: +32 2 284 2111, and the Breyer report. See also the text of the water framework directive and the Commission's priority list proposal.

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