Romania Ignoring Scale of Pollution to Avoid Sanctions, Activist Claims

A leading environmental activist in Romania, Octavian Berceanu, told BIRN on Friday that Romanian authorities do not want to collect accurate data on the amount of air pollution in the country because sanctions would be triggered. 

"Once the level of pollution in Romania was shown, other sanctions would follow," he said, referencing European Commission decisions to refer Romania to the Court of Justice of the European Union in two cases - for failing to comply with EU rules to tackle industrial pollution, and adopt an air pollution control programme by Thursday. 

"Romania risks infringement. It can be fined several million euros, and then [with] daily penalties. These fines can amount up to 500,000 euros a day," the activist said. 

In the first case, the Commission argues that Romania has not ensured that three industrial plants operate with a valid permit under the Industrial Emissions Directive (Directive 2010/75/EU) to prevent or reduce pollution.

Secondly, Romania has not adopted a national air pollution control programme under Directive (EU) 2016/2284 on reducing national emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants. 

Berceanu said that if Romania collected proper data on pollution, it would have to impose costly measures on some of the worst polluters, both private and state-owned companies, which it would prefer to avoid. 

"This would mean these polluters making some investments and putting in filters. These polluters are both in the private and the state sectors," he said.

Under the terms of the so-called Green Deal, launched in December 2019. the EU, of which Romania is a member, is committed to making Europe totally carbon and climate neutral by 2050 with an intermediate goal of cutting emissions by 55 per...

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