Greece’s Trash Troubles Net Millions in EU Fines

     (CN) — The European Court of Justice on Wednesday slapped Greece with an $11 million fine for its ongoing failures to properly handle its hazardous waste.
     This is the third time the EU high court has dinged the Hellenic Republic over its waste woes since 2014.
     In 2014, the court fined Greece $12.4 million plus penalties for not complying with EU waste-management laws or a 2005 judgment to do so. Regulators in the case discovered 1,125 illegal landfills that Greece promised to close but could not completely due to the sheer number of sites and a lack of suitable dumping space.
     Then in 2015, the high court slapped Greece with an $11.4 million fine for failing to implement EU rules on urban wastewater.
     Both cases — and Wednesday’s judgment — include hefty ongoing penalties until the problems are cleared up.
     The latest case involves Greece’s failure to abide by a 2009 high court judgment, which found that the republic did not have the required hazardous-waste plan or the appropriate places to store hazardous waste.
     Ongoing monitoring by the commission revealed that Greece made little progress toward implementing a plan for its hazardous waste, leading to further legal action by the commission in 2013.
     Greece had argued that it has since largely complied with the 2009 judgment and that despite its fiscal troubles it will soon be fully compliant with EU law.
     Despite this, the Luxembourg-based high court took the hard line, noting that member states cannot use fiscal or political problems as a legal excuse and that Greece had plainly and simply missed the deadline to comply with the earlier judgment.
     In addition to the $11 million lump-sum penalty, the court ordered Greece to pay nearly $34,000 daily — beginning Wednesday — until the republic is in full compliance with EU law.

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