European Commission Sues Italy Over Air Pollution And Failure To Properly Treat Urban Waste Water

European Commission Sues Italy Over Air Pollution And Failure To Properly Treat Urban Waste Water

The European Commission decided today to refer Italy to the Court of Justice of the EU in two separate cases regarding environmental legislation.

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Representative Image Source: Pixabay, labeled for reuse

When it comes to water pollution, Italy is failing to ensure that all agglomerations with a population of more than 2 000 are provided with collecting systems for urban waste water and that urban waste water entering collecting systems is adequately treated before discharge, as required by the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive.

The Commission considers that 620 agglomerations in 16 Regions (Abruzzo, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Lazio, Liguria, Lombardia, Marche, Puglia, Sardegna, Sicilia, Toscana, Umbria, Valle d'Aosta, and Veneto), are in breach of EU rules on collection or treatment of urban waste water.

Italy has not complied with EU rules in these regions for over 13 years, with significant risks to the environment and human health in a large number of agglomerations. The general and persistent character of Italy's breach of the collection and treatment obligations under the Urban Waste Water Directive is confirmed by two other cases, in which the Court has already ruled against Italy regarding larger agglomerations and has imposed fines in one of those cases.

Another case concerns air pollution, and a failure to protect citizens against the effects of nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The Commission is calling on Italy to respect agreed air quality limit values and take appropriate measures to cut pollution levels in ten agglomerations covering around 7 million people. The limit values for NO2 set out under EU legislation on ambient air quality had to be met in 2010.

Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive

The Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive requires Member States to ensure that agglomerations or urban settlements (towns, cities) properly collect and treat their urban waste water. Untreated waste water can be contaminated with harmful bacteria and viruses, presenting a risk to human health. It also contains nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous which can damage freshwaters and the marine environment, promoting excessive algae growth that chokes other living organisms, a process known as eutrophication.

For more information visit European Commission