Slovenia breached EU law by failing to clean up an illegal tyre landfill near the country’s largest freshwater reserve, the EU court ruled on Thursday.
The EU Court of Justice agreed with the European Commission that Slovenia had failed to stop the uncontrolled dumping of tyres at the Lovrenc na Dravskem Polju site in northeast Slovenia and to contain the resulting environmental and health impacts. Their landfilling has been banned under the EU Landfill Directive since 2001.
However, the court found that the EU executive had failed to prove that tyres are hazardous waste as defined under the EU Waste Framework Directive.
It ordered Slovenia to pay its legal costs and two thirds of those incurred by the Commission, which must cover the remainder.
An inquiry by the Commission, carried out between 2010 and 2012, concluded that thousands of tonnes of tyres remained in the landfill despite the fact that a contract for the cleanup had been signed in 2006. It found that large fires had broken out in 2007 and 2008 releasing toxic fumes.
After the Commission found the clean-up works were far from complete in 2015, it announced it would take Slovenia to the EU court.
Illegal tyre landfills have also been an issue in Spain, where a toxic blaze at a site in Seseña last May wiped out 70% of the stored waste and forced the mass evacuation of local residents.