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Romania can be sued at the CJEU because of its coal-fired power plants

3 July 2020

European Commission is asking Romania to improve the application of the directive on emissions from industrial installations within three months, otherwise it will reach the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), where it was already sanctioned for air quality in April, according to Bankwatch.

Three installations at two coal-fired power plants operate without complying with the emission limits allowed by the directive for sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and dust.

For the fourth year in a row, the European Commission has launched infringement proceedings against Romania, this time in the form of a reasoned opinion – an ultimatum before the CJEU is notified – because it “allows industrial installations to operate without the necessary permits.”

If in three months Romania does not adopt and communicate the necessary measures for the full and correct application of the directive, the Commission will notify the Court of Justice of the European Union.

The infringement procedure took place following a complaint filed by the Bankwatch Association in 2017, which showed that the Industrial Emissions Directive is not applied correctly in Romania, a series of coal-fired power plants operating without integrated environmental permits, and their emissions exceeding the legal limit.

The industrial installations referred to in the procedure are the units at the Mintia and Govora II thermal power plants which operate without integrated environmental permits and which have benefited from exemptions for SO2, NOx and dust emissions, concluded with the withdrawal of the units from the National Transition Plan. Their emissions are still well above the legal limit and endanger the health of the inhabitants of Deva and Râmnicu Vâlcea, but also of the whole country, these substances being transported by wind hundreds of kilometers away.

“Most EU member states have either already given up coal-fired electricity production or will do so by 2030. Romania does not have such a plan, although power plants are so old that they cannot operate legally. Instead of investing in the modernization of the energy system, we support the big polluters,” said Alexandru Mustață, Campaign Coordinator, Bankwatch Romania.

The Industrial Emissions Directive regulates emissions of suspended dust, nitrogen oxides and also sulfur dioxide, which is responsible for acid rain. They endanger human health, causing tens of thousands of diseases in Europe every year.

Failure to comply with the pollution limits of industrial installations is part of the July infringement package in which several environmental appeals are launched in Romania. These include the lack of a program for radioactive waste management, combating illegal deforestation and increasing the protection of Natura 2000 sites.

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