Europe’s worst polluters named and shamed

Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström names and shames Europe’s top urban water polluters

According to a European Commission report, most Member States are still pumping raw or inadequately treated sewage into their waters, breaching a ten year old urban wastewater Directive (91/271/EEC). The Directive on wastewater treatment was disgned to protect the environment from adverse effects of the discharge of urban wastewater and biodegradable wastewater from the food-processing industry.

Under the Directive, Member States were supposed to have a rigorous sewage and collection treatment system in place for towns with more than 10,000 inhabitants by 1998.

The report named 37 towns and cities around Europe, which have no provision to treat wastewater. The United Kingdom, with 11 entries, emerged as Europe's worst water polluter, with Spain, Portugal and Italy not far behind. Brussels and Milan are among towns with more than 150,000 inhabitants that discharge raw sewage directly into rivers and seas. France and Germany were also criticised for failing to provide information. Only Denmark and Austria are close to complying with the 1991 Directive.

Commissioner Wallström said: "Member States are also setting a bad example and sending a deplorable message to the candidate countries, which are being criticised for not transposing EU environmental legislation quickly enough."


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