Skip to main content

The prohibition of mercury discharges from coal-fired power stations under European law

Peter Kremer

elni Review 2013,  pp. 51-58. https://doi.org/10.46850/elni.2013.007

Despite diverse pledges on climate change and plans to render the energy supply 100 percent renewable, in October 2012 there were eight coal-fired power stations under construction in Germany with a combined capacity of 8,600 MW and combined projected emissions of nearly 50 million tonnes of CO2. Coal-fired power stations emit not just climate-damaging CO2, but many other pollutants besides. The most relevant of these to human health is mercury. In this article, therefore, it is asked what instruments are available under prevailing law to prohibit the construction of new coal-fired power stations and to make their approval subject to judicial review. The discussion centers on the Water Framework Directive. First, however, a look is taken at the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), with the focus on airborne and waterborne mercury emissions. 

Access full article

References

 

  1. Kremer, Peter, The prohibition of mercury discharges from coal-fired power stations under European law, Journal for European Environmental & Planning Law 2013, Volume 10, Issue 2, pages 132 – 151, Koninklijke Brill NV. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/18760104-01002003.
  2. European Commission, Guidelines on certain State aid measures in the context of the greenhouse gas emission allowance trading scheme post-2012, OJ 2012 C 158/4.  
  3. German Bundestag, Bundestags-Drucksache 17/10269 (Federal Government answer to a minor interpellation tabled by the Fraktion Bündnis 90/Die Grünen party on the status of the power station subsidies programme for new fossil fuel power stations).
  4. European Commission, 2011, ‘Energy 2020 - A strategy for competitive, sustainable and secure energy’.
  5. Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy, OJ 2000 L 327/1.
  6. Directive 2010/75/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010 on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control), OJ 2010 L 334/17.
  7. Commission of the European Communities, 2005, Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament. Community Strategy Concerning Mercury, COM(2005) 20 final.
  8. European Commission, 2010, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the review of the Community Strategy Concerning Mercury, COM(2010) 723 final.
  9. Regulation (EC) no 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), establishing a European Chemicals Agency, amending Directive 1999/45/EC and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 793/93 and Commission Regulation (EC) No 1488/94 as well as Council Directive 76/769/EEC and Commission Directives 91/155/EEC, 93/67/EEC, 93/105/EC and 2000/21/EC, OJ 2006 L 396/1.
  10. Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), establishing a European Chemicals Agency, amended with regard to Annex XVII, amended with regard to mercury by Regulation (EC) No 552/2009 of the European Commission of 22 June 2009, OJ 2009 L 164/7, further amended with regard to mercury by Commission Regulation (EU) No 847/2012, OJ 2012 L 253/1 and Commission Regulation (EU) No 848/2012, OJ 2012 L 253/5.
  11. Commission Regulation (EC) No 552/2009 of 22 June 2009 amending Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) as regards Annex XVII, OJ 2009 L 164/7.
  12. Commission Regulation (EU) No 847/2012 of 19 September 2012 amending Annex XVII to Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) as regards mercury, OJ 2012 L 253/1.
  13. Commission Regulation (EU) No 848/2012 of 19 September 2012 amending Annex XVII to Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) as regards phenylmercury compounds Text with EEA relevance, OJ 2012 L 253/5.
  14. European Commission, 2006, ‘Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Reference Document on Best Available Techniques for Large Combustion Plants’.
  15. Directive 2010/75/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010 on industrial emissions (integrated pollution prevention and control), OJ 2010 L334/17.
  16. Kick-off Meeting for the review of the best available techniques reference document on large combustion plants, Seville, 25 - 28 October 2011.
  17. Commission regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 of 19 December 2006 setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs, OJ 2006 L 364/5.
  18. Decision No 2455/2001/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 November 2001 establishing the list of priority substances in the field of water policy and amending Directive 2000/60/EC, OJ 2001 L 331/1.
  19. Directive 2008/105/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on environmental quality standards in the field of water policy, amending and subsequently repealing Council Directives 82/176/EEC, 83/513/EEC, 84/156/EEC, 84/491/EEC, 86/280/EEC and amending Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, OJ 2008 L 348/84.
  20. Council Directive 82/176/EEC of 22 March 1982 on limit values and quality objectives for mercury discharges by the chlor-alkali electrolysis industry, OJ 1982 L 81/29.
  21. Council Directive 83/513/EEC of 26 September 1983 on limit values and quality objectives for cadmium discharges, OJ 1983 L 291/1.
  22. Council Directive 84/156/EEC of 8 March 1984 on limit values and quality objectives for mercury discharges by sectors other than the chlor-alkali electrolysis industry, OJ 1984 L 74/49.
  23. Council Directive 84/491/EEC of 9 October 1984 on limit values and quality objectives for discharges of hexachlorocyclohexane, OJ 1984 L 274/11.
  24. Council Directive 86/280/EEC of 12 June 1986 on limit values and quality objectives for discharges of certain dangerous substances included in List I of the Annex to Directive 76/464/EEC, OJ 1986 L 181/16.
  25. Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy, OJ 2000 L 327/1.
  26. Opinion of the Council Legal Service issued 7.3.2001 (JUR 79, ENV 116).
  27. Court of Justice of the European Union, 1999, Judgment of the Court (Sixth Chamber) of 29 September 1999. A.M.L. van Rooij v Dagelijks bestuur van het waterschap de Dommel. Reference for a preliminary ruling: Raad van State - Netherlands. Environment - Directive 76/464/EEC - "Discharge" - Possibility for a Member State to adopt a wider definition of "discharge" than that in the directive (Case C-231/97).
  28. Regierungspräsidium Darmstadt by Prof. Dr. Michael Reinhardt, LL.M. (Cantab), 2010, ‚Wasserrechtliche Anforderungen an die Einleitung quecksilberhaltigen Abwassers in ein oberirdisches Gewässer‘.
  29. Court of Justice of the European Union, 1997, Judgment of the Court of 18 December 1997. Inter-Environnement Wallonie ASBL v Région wallonne. Reference for a preliminary ruling: Conseil d'Etat - Belgium. Directive 91/156/EEC - Period for transposition - Effects - Definition of waste (Case C-129/96).
  30. Court of Justice of the European Union, 2005, Judgment of the Court (Grand Chamber) of 22 November 2005. Werner Mangold v Rüdiger Helm. Reference for a preliminary ruling: Arbeitsgericht München - Germany. Directive 1999/70/EC - Clauses 2, 5 and 8 of the Framework Agreement on fixed-term work - Directive 2000/78/EC - Article 6 - Equal treatment as regards employment and occupation - Age discrimination (Case C-144/04).
  31. Directive 2008/105/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on environmental quality standards in the field of water policy, amending and subsequently repealing Council Directives 82/176/EEC, 83/513/EEC, 84/156/EEC, 84/491/EEC, 86/280/EEC and amending Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, OJ 2008 L 348/84.
  32. 2012, ‚Bericht zu, Kenntnis- und Diskussionsstand betreffend Quecksilberbelastungen in Gewässern und diesbezügliche Relevanz luftbürtiger Quellen (Bund/Länder- Arbeitsgemeinschaft Bodenschutz, Bund/Länder-Arbeitsgemeinschaft Wasser, Bund/Länder-Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Immissionsschutz).
  33. Court of Justice of the European Union, 2010, Judgment of the Court (Second Chamber) of 14 January 2010. Stadt Papenburg v Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Reference for a preliminary ruling: Verwaltungsgericht Oldenburg - Germany. Directive 92/43/EEC - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora - Decision of the Member State concerned to give its agreement to the draft list of sites of Community importance drawn up by the Commission - Interests and points of view which must be taken into account (Case C-226/08).
  34. Court of Justice of the European Union, 2005, Judgment of the Court (Grand Chamber) of 7 June 2005. Vereniging voor Energie, Milieu en Water and Others v Directeur van de Dienst uitvoering en toezicht energie. Reference for a preliminary ruling: College van Beroep voor het bedrijfsleven - Netherlands. Internal market in electricity - Preferential access to the system for cross-border transmission of electricity - Undertaking previously responsible for the operation of services of general economic interest - Long-term contracts existing prior to the liberalisation of the market - Directive 96/92/EC - Principle of non-discrimination - Principles of the protection of legitimate expectation and of legal certainty (Case C-17/03).
  35. Court of Justice of the European Union, 2002, Judgment of the Court of 29 January 2002. Land Nordrhein-Westfalen v Beata Pokrzeptowicz-Meyer. Reference for a preliminary ruling: Bundesarbeitsgericht - Germany. External relations - Europe Agreement between the Communities and Poland - Interpretation of the first indent of Article 37(1) - Prohibition of discrimination based on nationality as regards conditions of employment or dismissal for Polish workers legally employed in a Member State - Fixed-term contract of employment of a foreign-language assistant - Effect on such a contract of the entry into force of the Europe Agreement (Case C-162/00).
  36. Durner/Trillmich, 2011 ‚Ausstieg aus der Kohlenutzung kraft europäischen Wasserrechts?‘, DVBl., 517-525.
  37. Gellermann, 2012, Europäisches Wasserrecht und Kohlenutzung in der Perspektive des Primärrechts, NVwZ , 850.
  38. Court of Justice of the European Union, 2001, Judgment of the Court of 30 January 2001. Kingdom of Spain v Council of the European Union. Legal basis - Environment - Council decision approving the Convention on cooperation for the protection and sustainable use of the river Danube - Article 130s(1) and (2) of the EC Treaty (now, after amendment, Article 175(1) and (2) EC) - Concept of 'management of water resources' (Case C-36/98).