EU environmental crime law deal struck

5 June 2008

The deliberate and negligent potentially harmful release of radioactive material is among a list of environmental misdemeanours to become crimes in all 27 member states of the European Union (EU), following agreement over a new EU law.

This directive on environmental crime – agreed by the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers – tells all EU countries to ensure a wide range of misdeeds damaging the environment are listed as crimes, not civil offences. From two years after the directive is formally approved (expected later this summer), they must be punished by “effective, proportionate and dissuasive” criminal penalties – although these are not laid down in detail.

As regards the nuclear industry, the directive says releasing and handling radioactive material so that humans could be killed or seriously harmed, or the environment maybe substantially damaged must be criminalised across the EU. So must the improper handling, transport and disposal of any waste – with the same potential consequences.

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