EU Governments Agree on Rules To Tackle Pollution from Mining Waste
BRUSSELS, Belgium The European Union on Wednesday announced an agreement on rules to curb pollution caused by waste from mines and quarries.
The new law requires EU governments to monitor and control how mining companies handle silt, coal ash, waste rock and contaminated or toxic materials taken from mines and seek to prevent such waste seeping into rivers, lakes or reservoirs.
Under the rules, companies must also follow EU licensing and operation guidelines for waste sites to prevent accidents or deliberate leaks. The rules will apply to closed sites and their waste storage facilities.
EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said agreement on the rules by the European Parliament and EU governments was "a very good result."
Mining waste amounts to about 400 million tons a year, accounting for about 20 percent of total waste generated in the EU. Some of the mining waste may contain dangerous substances such as heavy metals, but a significant part is harmless and can be reused, for example, in road-building.
EU member states drafted the rules following the 2000 leak of cyanide-laced water from a gold mine in Romania that killed fish, plants and wildlife along the Danube River in one of Europe's worst environmental accidents since the explosion at the nuclear reactor in Chernobyl 20 years ago.
EU governments have two years to incorporate the new rules into national laws once they have been formally adopted.
Source: Associated press