Three criminal procedures are the main priority of the acting Minister of Environment and Water, Rositsa Karamfilova - for reclamation of landfills, air pollution with fine dust particles and high standards of sulfur dioxide. Karamfilova presented her priorities and team today to journalists. Currently, Bulgaria has 16 criminal proceedings in the field of ecology, 5 of them are in the initial stage, 6 of them are in the final stage of criminal proceedings, there are 2 criminal proceedings in the judicial phase, and 3 of the proceedings have been established in court", commented Karamfilova, quoted by BGNES.
The first criminal procedure that will be worked on is related to the reclamation of landfills in 8 municipalities - Byala, Pernik, Velingrad, Dupnitsa, Pirdop, Boboshevo, Kocherinovo and Kardjali. It is necessary to take urgent actions to implement the projects for technical reclamation of municipal waste landfills. A year ago, the EC warned that our country would soon be brought before the Court of the EU for the payment of significant financial sanctions due to non-reclaimed 43 landfills for non-hazardous waste. At the moment, there are 8 such landfills, for which Bulgaria must make maximum efforts for their reclamation, so that the amount of sanctions is reduced.
"With 45 days left until September 30, the mission is almost impossible, but I think with joint efforts we can move things forward." We held a meeting with 7 municipalities and the mayors are aware that they will have to start work on reclamation of the landfills. The forces and commitments to be fulfilled are extremely great. The aim of the new management is to reduce the sanctions.
A second criminal procedure is related to non-compliance with fine particulate matter standards. In 2021, the EC initiated a case against Bulgaria and wants financial sanctions to be imposed. "On September 21 this year, Bulgaria must appear in the so-called "oral competition" to prove whether the measures taken are yielding results. Despite the known progress, air pollution in Bulgaria is causing serious concern, commented just a few days ago the European Commissioner for the Environment in a special interview for 3eNews Virginijus Sinkevičius. Exceeding the EU limit values is systematic and persistent. Bulgaria is still one of the Member States with the highest number of pollution-related deaths, years of life lost and exposure of the urban population to microparticles. Therefore, Bulgaria is the first member state to be brought before the court. The Commission has adopted a systematic approach to make sure that Member States comply with their obligations to properly monitor and take measures to contain excesses of dangerous pollutants such as particulate matter (PM), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) or sulfur dioxide (SO2). The former Minister of Environment and Water Borislav Sandov has repeatedly commented that the violations are related to non-compliance with the norms for the period 2015-2019 and unfortunately the data cannot be refuted. But the question is whether we can convince the Commission that all the necessary measures are being taken, remains to be seen.
The next penalty procedure is related to sulfur dioxide values. Bulgaria is the only country in the entire European Union that cannot achieve the norm for sulfur dioxide. Karamfilova added that if the specified amount of the permitted substance is not reached, a financial correction will be imposed.
"As a ministry, we have no desire to imprison anyone or anything. The permit determines how an enterprise must comply with the environmental requirements that have been set," said Karamfilova. She stated that if the rules are not followed, sanctions will be imposed.
On the occasion of the "Struma Motorway" saga, Karamfilova pointed out that the ministry will draw up a clear and concrete action plan for the steps taken by the contractors. "In this context are the EC's expectations for the presentation of a schedule and specific steps," she said.
The third main priority on which the Ministry of Education and Culture will work is the operational program "Environment and the National Plan for Recovery and Sustainability.
Karamfilova also introduced the deputy ministers of the official cabinet. These are Reneta Koleva, who was already deputy minister during Rumen Radev's office with minister Asen Lichev and will now be responsible for waste, air and national parks, Petar Dimitrov will be responsible for water management. Another deputy minister will join the team next week. Karamfilova pointed out that the team is expert, they have long experience and seniority and will help to fulfill the main priorities of the ministry.