Symbolic environmental pollution fines cancelled2014-09-02
On an order of the Minister of Environment, revisions of the damage calculation methodology are taking effect on the 1st of October introducing a minimum applicable level of indemnity for environmental damage.
Making a precise assessment of pollutants discharged to the environment and measuring environmental damage is often impossible. Doing this is even more complicated on account of the spreading and absorption of pollutants when it comes to long-term environmental pollution. So until recently it was impossible to impose adequate sanctions on those responsible for long-lasting pollution. For instance, the fact of wastewater flowing into a stream becomes known to environmental officers only after a week. The issue is sorted within a few hours, but the offender could be punished only for the amount of pollutant which was released to the environment within those few hours when the violation was being recorded. This did not reflect the real environmental damage caused. For example, one used to be charged LTL 12 for discharging 100 kg of sulphates to the environment.
“In very many instances evil-minded offenders used to get away thanks to the situation, environmental damage being left non-remedied. From now on they will have to be liable at minimum damage rates. An obvious fact of environmental damage will be sufficient for environmentalists to apply the minimum rates of environmental damage. There will be no more situations when an officer’s work, laboratory tests and documentation cost more than the fine imposed by the state,” the Vice-minister of Environment, Linas Jonauskas, said.
The new revisions of the methodology for calculating environmental damage indemnity rates provide that the minimum environmental damage rate for contaminating water bodies, soil surface and/or its deeper layers with biological substances (e.g. waste water) will be at least LTL 518 (EUR 150). A rate of LTL 691 (EUR 200) will apply to chemical pollution.
The minimum rate for any type of air pollution (for example, burning plastic) is LTL 345 (EUR 100).
The new procedure eliminates symbolic damage rates and polluters will be charged a minimum amount in any case.
Minimum damage rates have applied for over one year in the waste management sector. Environmental pollution is subject to a fine of at least LTL 500 (EUR 145) for non-hazardous and at least LTL 1,500 (EUR 434) for hazardous waste.
Public information division