EC refers Portugal back to court over urban wastewater failings
Portugal is being referred back to the European Court of Justice on the recommendation of environment commissioner Janez Potocnik for poor implementation of the EU Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive. The European Commission wants the court to impose fines on Portugal.
Back in 2009, the court ruled that Portugal was failing in its obligation to collect, treat and dispose of urban wastewater in an adequate manner. Seven extended towns or cities (agglomerations) across the country with populations of more than 15,000 lacked the necessary collection systems and 15 lacked adequate treatment systems.
The commission said two agglomerations are still failing to comply with EU standards and the situation is likely to persist for several years, putting the health of citizens is at risk. The commission is asking for a lump sum fine of nearly €4.5M and a daily penalty payment of more than €20,100 until the obligations are fulfilled.
In Vila Real Santo António (population equivalent: 116 500), although work is well advanced, three districts are still not connected to the collection and treatment system.
In Matosinhos (population equivalent: 287 000), a major fishing harbour and industrial district near Oporto, the latest information available shows work has not yet started on upgrades to the treatment plant and the new system will not be operational before late 2017 at the earliest. Until then, inadequately treated wastewater will continue to be discharged into the sea.
Under EU legislation, the deadline for completing such works was 2000.
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