Nearly CZK 93 Million: Czech Environmental Inspectorate Balances Activities in 2013

The annual report 2013, edited by the Czech Environmental Inspectorate, is not only listing the number of inspections, of illegal actions and of resulting fines: It illustrates the problems and difficulties the inspectors have to handle with to detect irregularity or infringement and to respectively separate right waste management from wrong. (Photo: Wolfgang Dirscherl  / pixelio.de)

In 2013, inspectors of the Czech Waste Management Department carried out 3,150 inspections within 4,040 inspection activities. Out of the 3,150 inspections, 1,149 were planned and 2,001 unplanned. In 2013, Waste Management Department inspectors in cooperation with inspectors from other departments carried out 227 inspections on compliance with obligations pursuant to the Integrated Prevention Act. Following detection of violation of legal provisions within the scope of WMD agenda, 994 administrative proceedings were initiated and 984 decisions and orders on imposition of fines were issued in 2013. In 2013, the total of 907 decisions and orders came into effect, which imposed fines totalling to CZK 92,941,100 (Euro 3,385,980).

Facilities for waste disposal and processing

Within inspections focused on operation of facilities for waste disposal or waste processing before disposal, the total of 305 inspections was performed in 2013, of which 96 were performed following lodged submissions. Violation of legal provisions or effective decisions was detected in 62 cases and consequently administrative proceedings on imposition of fines were initiated. Issued decisions which came to effect in 2013 imposed fines totalling to CZK 3,331,000 (Euro 121,353)

Source: Czech Environmental Inspectorate / Annual Report 2013

Source: Czech Environmental Inspectorate / Annual Report 2013

Landfills

In 2013, the CEI performed inspections of 153 landfills in total, including recultivated landfills (11 inspections) and landfills in post-closure care regime (9 inspections). Regular inspections, among others, checked handling waste coming from remediation of the Ostramo lagoons, which is temporarily stored in a hazardous waste landfill on a site outside Litvínov (25 inspections). Deficiencies discovered in landfill operation included exceeding of the defined active (uncovered) area of a landfill, detection of large areas in the slopes of dumps with poorly technically secured removed waste, storage of waste containing asbestos outside designated area of the landfill, poor functionality of surface water drainage system along the landfill and carry-over of light waste components. Recurring deficiencies include insufficient documentation of received waste quality, particularly incomplete or missing basic description of waste, including protocols on sample analysis.

Four emergency situations of stored waste ignition in landfills were handled by the WMD, which entailed violation of legislation stipulating obligation to secure waste against degradation. Waste ignition is often induced by the fact that the valid decisions and operating rules allow storage of almost all kinds of waste in the landfill and use of unsuitable waste for technological safety of the landfill (e.g. easily inflammable waste, waste of low weight, etc.).

Plants and facilities for hazardous waste procession

Last but not least, 125 inspections and investigations were run on illegal waste dumps on unauthorized sites, primarily with construction and demolition waste, waste incineration and illegal dumps in the first place. Illegal dumps are extremely negatively perceived by the public, which is reflected in the huge number of submissions. From the point of view of the Waste Act, however, it is extremely difficult to tackle the problem of illegal dumps, and the CEI has no competencies in this area. Nevertheless, several inspections were carried out in 2013 in order to prove existence of illegal dumps on municipal sites to enable NGOs to draw funds from the MoE subsidies.

In 2013, 12 inspections were carried out at facilities for hazardous waste procession, i.e. physical-chemical treatment, stabilization, decontamination including biodegradation, neutralization etc. In the course of the inspections, the Inspectorate uncovered operation of facilities in contradiction with operational rules and permits. It was uncovered that collection means for hazardous waste were not properly labelled and sites for handling hazardous waste were not provisioned with identification documents. Serious failure was uncovered in case when collected waste was not secured against unwanted degradation and leakage into the environment, and it was proved that waste was not secured and this resulted in leakage of contaminants into the environment.

Incineration plants

Along with principal inspections of landfills, 15 inspections in incineration plants or facilities for power production from waste were performed in 2013. No major violations were detected; nevertheless, some inspections and follow-up administrative proceedings are still under way, the reason being high demands on expertise and time in these inspections.

Source: Czech Environmental Inspectorate / Annual Report 2013

Source: Czech Environmental Inspectorate / Annual Report 2013

Facilities for waste reuse

Within the tasks related to operation of facilities for waste reuse, 276 inspections were run in 2013, of which 74 were on the basis of filed submissions. Administrative proceedings on imposition of fines were initiated on the basis of 81 detected violations of legal provisions of effective decisions. The amount of fines imposed by effective decisions was CZK 35,366,500 (Euro 1,288,450). The highest fine amounting to CZK 25,000,000 (Euro 910,000) was imposed on parties in proceedings for gross and recurring violation of legal obligations.

Waste and soil alterations

Most often the CEI dealt with unauthorized terrain alterations by means of soil. Subjects often incorrectly assume that soil is a by-product or that it is not waste. In such cases, work of building authorities is essential, as it is them who deal with terrain alterations within the Building Act. Majority of filed submissions refer to unauthorized use of waste trench soil or construction waste in terrain alterations, or to handling waste on unauthorized sites.

Another major part of CEI’s work within this departmental task was inspections of facilities which perform various waste alterations (mainly construction waste), whose output is either modified waste or products from waste. The problem with the definition of a by-product recurred in these inspections. The problem lies in classification of originated waste after its modification, when the legal provision is being intentionally misinterpreted in order to exclude the waste from application of provisions of the Waste Act (by means of so called by-products or products from waste).

Compost plants

Inspections of compost plants primarily uncovered that composting of biologically degradable waste is not carried out in compliance with the facility’s approved operational rules, when, for instance, the facility accepted waste without recording the individual packings in the production records, incorrect way of layering waste on the composting area resulting in failure to secure the correct composting process, rotting waste, acceptance of unauthorized waste, exceeded facility capacity.

Facilities for collecting and repurchase of waste

In the course of 2013, the CEI carried out 384 inspections of facilities for collecting and repurchase of waste, mobile facilities for waste collection and municipal recycling yards. The most frequently inspected stationary facilities were metal waste buyback centres. Pursuant to detected violation of law, 83 administrative proceedings were initiated and 116 decisions and orders on imposition of fines were issued. In 2013, the total of 175 decisions and orders became effective, stipulating fines totalling to CZK 11,036,000 (Euro 402,000). In two cases, effective fines amounting to CZK 1,000,000 (Euro 36,000) were imposed.

The most common administrative offences detected included operation of facilities in contradiction with approved operational rules, handling waste on unauthorized sites and breach of duty of registration and duty of reporting. More common than in previous years were cases, when operators of waste collecting facilities repurchased from individuals waste of such types which is prohibited pursuant to the implementing provisions. These included parts of electrical installations, generally beneficial equipment such as cash barriers, or even reverent objects. It was for repurchase of such an object (funeral urn) that a fine of CZK 700,000 (Euro 25,500) was imposed.

Problems arise with operation of mobile facilities for collection and repurchase (or use) of waste, namely when these act only as resellers, i.e. the facility does not physically handle waste in any way. Such system much complicates supervision over waste flows and, due to mismanaged registries, makes it impossible for state administrative bodies to create a realistic picture of waste handling in CR.

Facilities for EoL cars

The CEI inspectors carried out the total of 101 inspections of facilities for collection, repurchase and processing of car wrecks in 2013. For detected violations, 24 administrative proceedings were initiated and 43 decisions or orders on imposition of fines were issued in 2013. In the course of 2013, the total of 39 decisions and orders came to effect, which stipulated fines totalling to CZK 1,734,000 (Euro 63,000). The highest fine imposed amounted to CZK 275,000 (Euro 10,000).

The Inspectorate registered a number of cases when not only physical bodies acting as sole-traders but also individuals dismantle car wrecks in contradiction with legal provisions on unprotected sites and in an inappropriate way, which endangers the environment and health of citizens living close by. Such cases are common especially in deprived areas where socially underprivileged persons strive to improve their financial situation by selling different commodities acquired by dismantling car wrecks.

Collection of used products

Within this departmental task, the CEI performed 140 inspections. These inspections identified 58 cases of violation of legal provisions with 42 subjects. These findings resulted in the total of 34 administrative proceedings initiated and 30 fines imposed totalling to CZK 715,000 (Euro 26,000) in 2013, which means that the amount doubled compared to previous years. The remaining administrative proceedings will be initiated or concluded in 2014.

Ensuring and performance of back collection

In 2013, the CEI focused mainly of commodities which are subject to back collection, the main focus being on bodies dealing with back collection of tyres which sold their products through e-shops, and on the so called free riding in batteries and electrical appliances. A major inspection was carried out within the inspection on adherence to obligation of back collection of oil at a big retailer – a chain of filling stations. Inspections followed the plan of activities (concrete focus) or were initiated by submissions of market participants and collective system participants.

Failure to provide back collection and insufficient provision of information to end users on provision of back collection was detected in 15 cases, mainly at vendors of tyres and oil. Free riding was detected in eight cases. These concerned failure to fulfil the duty of registration in the MoE’s list of producers and failure to fulfil other related duties. The same problems had been detected in previous years, as many subjects are not acquainted with their legal obligations or try to avoid them in order to safe money. Failure to elaborate and submit the annual report on performance of back collection was detected in 18 cases, mainly within inspections of e-shop operators selling tyres.

Handling waste originated from back collection

The area of handling used products and illegal conduct typically reflects economic value, especially of electrical appliances and car batteries. Cases of illegal re-purchase via “mobile re-purchasing”, especially of car batteries, of re-purchase of parts of electric waste within or outside authorized recycling yards are recurrent. The CEI also dealt with more sophisticated ways of illegal organization of collection of used electric waste including conclusion of agreements on such collection and proofs of ecological disposal. The CEI imposed a fine of CZK 150,000 (Euro 5,460) on the Sound & Vision s.r.o. company for such conduct.

Inspections of industrial plants/other waste originators

Within inspections focused on adherence to obligations of originators of waste, in 2013 the total of 1,006 inspections was carried out, of which 174 were based on filed submissions. In 2013, the CEI conducted 248 administrative proceedings on impositions of fines and the total of fines imposed within this departmental task amounted to CZK 5,077,000 (Euro 185,000).

Same as in previous years, in 2013 inspections of originators of waste dealt with incorrect classification of waste according to type and category, passing over waste to individuals who were not authorized for its possession, failure to secure waste against unwanted degradation, theft or leakage, failure to label collection means for hazardous waste, nonexistence of identification documents for hazardous waste, failure to keep continuous waste registries and failure to submit annual reports on handling waste to the ISPOP database.

In 2013, inspections on adherence to obligations pursuant to Act No. 477/2011 Coll., on packaging were run by the CEI at 168 subjects who dealt with handling packaged goods (import or trans-boundary transport for the purpose of sale or use of the imported goods in production, distribution of goods). In 2013, 84 administrative proceedings were conducted by the Inspectorate on the basis of violation of the Packaging Act, 90 sanctions became effective totalling to CZK 5,204,000 (Euro 190,000).

Like in previous years, in 2013 the CEI primarily focused on inspections of subjects who did not adhere to the provisions of the Packaging Act at all. This concerned the total of 73 subjects who failed to provide any back collection and re-use of packaging. 47 sanctions were imposed on these subjects totalling to CZK 2,667,000 (Euro 97.000).

Every year, the Ministry of Environment, following the annual evaluation of the “Annual reports on packaging and packaging waste”, sends the Inspectorate lists of subjects who failed to submit their annual reports or failed to fulfil other obligations pursuant to the Packaging Act. In 2013, 48 subjects were inspected upon requests of the MoE. 35 sanctions were imposed for discovered violations totalling to CZK 2,175,000 (Euro 79,000).

(EURNP0814S2)