German researchers have described the disposal of hazardous wastes in underground mines as "waste anarchy". In a report released this week, the independent Freiburg-based Eco-Institute, said that placing of waste in salt, potash and other mines should no longer be classed as waste use but as waste disposal. Around 350,000 tonnes of waste are dumped in German mines every year, out of annual arisings of hazardous wastes of 8-9m tonnes. According to the Eco-Institute, the practice poses ecological risks, particularly of groundwater contamination, and is insufficiently controlled because the classification as waste use means that normal landfilling restrictions do not apply. Contacted by ENDS Daily, a German environment ministry spokesperson denied that the use of mines posed extra risks and stressed that safety standards were equally high as for operations classed as waste disposal.
Eco-Institute, tel: +49 761 452 9522; German environment ministry, tel: +49 228 305 2010.
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