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Oder disaster report calls for stricter rules on industrial discharges

The European Commission (JRC and DG ENV) and the European Environmental Agency (EEA) have published a report on last year’s ecological disaster in the river Oder, where 360 tonnes of fish were killed by a toxic algal bloom.

The report concluded that the bloom was caused by saline wastewater discharges from industrial facilities along the river which, combined with excessive nitrogen and phosphorus levels and reduced water flows, created ideal brackish conditions for the algae to grow and release toxins which caused the mass fish deaths.

The report’s conclusions confirm the urgent need for better regulation of industrial emissions to water, including the release of nutrients from industrial farms. In our Position Paper on the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) revision, which is currently before the Parliament and Council, we support the Commission’s proposal to apply the Directive to more farms and to make permits adhere to the strictest end of Best Available Technique ranges for emission limit values.

In line with EurEau’s own position, the Commission/EEA report recommended an increase in monitoring and enforcement of industrial emission limits, regular reviewing of existing permits and proactive communication to riparian stakeholders in case of pollution. Amendments suggested by EurEau on the latter point have been endorsed by the text’s Rapporteur in Parliament, Radan Kanev (EPP, Bulgaria), while many more amendments were taken up by other MEPs.

The shocking images from the banks of the Oder last summer were a stark reminder of the need to act on industrial pollution. The fact that the disaster was made worse by low water levels also made it clear that water resources must be protected against over-exploitation too. This is why EurEau supports the Commission’s proposal to introduce environmental performance limit values (EPLVs) under the IED, including water efficiency provisions.

Tags: water, IED, water matters

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