Czech Hazardous Waste Shipment Winds Up in Court

The European Commission has referred the Czech Republic to the Court of Justice of the European Union because it failed to take back 20,000 tonnes of hazardous waste that was shipped to Katowice, Poland, by a Czech operator in late 2010 and early 2011.

The European Commission has referred the Czech Republic to the Court of Justice of the European Union because it failed to take back 20,000 tonnes of hazardous waste that was shipped to Katowice, Poland, by a Czech operator in late 2010 and early 2011. The case involves a dispute involving Poland and the Czech Republic on the classification of the shipment; Polish authorities refused to accept it on the grounds it was shipped in breach of the Waste Shipments Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 1013/2006) and should have been subject to the procedure of prior written notification and consent.

As the Poles saw it, it was an illegal shipment and Czech authorities should have accepted its return, but Czech authorities refused, arguing the material in question – a mixture of acid tar from petroleum refining, coal dust, and calcium oxide – was not waste but a product registered in accordance with the REACH Regulation.

The commission has intervened to resolve the dispute. "A reasoned opinion was sent to the Czech Republic in November 2015, rejecting the Czech arguments for classifying the shipment as a product and urging it to take it back. As the Czech authorities still refuse to take the waste back, the Commission has now referred the case to the Court of Justice of the EU," according to its news release.

It says if the relevant authorities in the Member States of destination and origin cannot agree on whether a shipment is waste or not, it must be treated as waste and taken back by its country of origin.

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