Europe's polluters will pay their way

日期:2019-03-04 06:07:12 作者:厍谢 阅读:

THE EUROPEAN Commission has taken the first steps towards making producers of pollutants responsible for the damage they cause. The commission says the producer must pay for any damage to health or property up to 30 years after they were produced, even if the pollutants have already been sold to a waste handler. This, says the commissioner for the environment, Carlo Ripa di Meana, will encourage industries to adopt cleaner technologies and to create fewer pollutants in the first place. The producer can take action against waste handlers if improper handling caused the damage. If the producer of the waste cannot be found, the handler is responsible. An EC directive should help in cases when it is not clear who is responsible for reclaiming the waste. Such cases have received increasing publicity: for example, last year, when various developing countries rejected shiploads of unclaimed Italian chemicals. The proposed directive also removes the burden of ‘proving’ that the damage has been caused by pollution produced by a particular company. It is often impossible for scientists to ‘prove’ such a connection in the legal sense. The directive calls only for ‘overwhelming probability’ that the pollutants in question are responsible. This is to protect victims from having to go to court to establish proof. The directive will also allow interested groups to bring charges of damage to the environment, not just to persons, in cases where the damage is persistent. The commission cites as support for this proposed change certain lawsuits that have arisen from the recent oil slick in Alaska, which caused widespread damage. However, it specifies that parties may seek only reparations, and not the large sums for damages that American courts commonly award. Only governments may sue for environmental damages at present, except in the Netherlands,