Poland complains to European Commission about German waste dumped in unauthorised landfills

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The complaint is a step toward taking Germany to the European Court of Justice.

Poland has made a complaint against Germany to the European Commission over tons of German waste, some of it allegedly toxic, brought and stored in unauthorised landfills across Poland.

Poland’s minister for climate and environment, Anna Moskwa, said the waste is being brought illegally and the complaint is a step toward taking Germany to the European Court of Justice.

Moskwa said the German government and local authorities failed to respond to Poland’s requests for the waste to be removed from its territory.

She said at least 35 tons of German waste are currently in Poland and appealed to the “very green” German government to remove it.

In Germany, the Environment Ministry said it didn’t have the complaint and couldn’t comment substantially on it. 

Spokesperson Christopher Stolzenberg said that, in general terms, illegal waste exports are something that the German government views with concern and wants to sharpen European Union rules on.

Stolzenberg added that, in Germany, state governments rather than the federal government are responsible for implementing the law – investigating, tracing and ordering the return of illegal exports. 

He said Berlin tries to help “informally” where it can.

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Foreign waste stored in Poland has been an issue for years. Polish companies sign contracts with foreign firms to neutralise the waste, but in some cases just dump it at unauthorised sites, eventually burning it to make room for more. The toxic fires have drawn public concern over the problem.

The Polish penal code provides for up to 10 years in prison for illegal import and storage of waste that may be toxic.

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