EU Cracks Down on Zakinthos Water Issues
(CN) - Greece hurt turtle habitat by turning a blind eye to the uncontrolled management of a landfill site in Zakinthos, the European Court of Justice ruled Thursday.
Zakinthos, sometimes spelled Zakynthos and also known as Zante, is a popular tourist island in the Ionian sea.
A population of sea turtles in the island's nation marine park has put Zakinthos among the Natura 2000 network of protected areas in the EU since 2006, the court said.
Regulators have found, however, that landfill operations within the park have caused environmental problems and hurt the turtle's habitat since 1999.
The European Commission brought infringement proceedings against Greece in the EU's highest judicial body, the Court of Justice, which ruled against Greece on Thursday.
Though a copy of the court's decision is not available in English, a statement from Luxembourg notes that the Zakinthos Association for the Management of Solid Waste failed to submit an environmental impact assessment for the construction of the new landfill site needed for waste management of Zakinthos and the two smaller Ionian islands.
The "existing landfill site is still operating in the marine park even though the permits and environmental conditions relating thereto expired in 2006," the court added.
Renewal of the landfill permit endangers the protected area, according to the ruling.
"Consequently, the court declares that by keeping in operation, on the Island of Zakinthos, an overfull landfill site which is not functioning properly and which does not comply with EU environmental legislation, Greece has failed to fulfill its obligations under the directive on waste and the directive on the landfill of waste," the court said (emphasis in original).
"Moreover, by renewing the landfill permit in breach of EU law, Greece has also failed to fulfill its obligations relating to the conservation of habitats and of wild fauna and flora."