Portugal "failing to respect" EU mercury law

European Court advisor recommends in Commission's favour over 1984 mercury control directive

Portugal has failed to comply with EU law on controlling and monitoring emissions of mercury from sectors other than the chlor-alkali electrolysis industry, an advisor to the European Court of Justice said today. Philippe L├ęger, an advocate general, recommended that the full court back a complaint by the European Commission that Portugal had failed to establish or communicate "specific programmes" to monitor and control mercury discharges by "multiple sources which are not industrial plants." In the directive, the provision is an additional requirement to rules laying down limit values for mercury discharges from a range of specific industries, such as manufacture of mercury catalysts, manufacture of batteries containing mercury and plants for the treatment of toxic wastes containing mercury. Portugal's defence - that it could not find any relevant potential mercury sources to communicate to the Commission and faced "multiple difficulties" in developing programmes because of "problems related to multiple and differing sources" - was invalid, the advocate general recommended. The directive (84/156/EEC) entered into force in 1989 and should have been implemented by EU member states within two years. The present case was launched by the Commission in 1997.

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European Court of Justice, tel: +352 43031.

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