Independent Center for the Development of Environmental Resources
“Pollution-free Sebes!” campaign
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Brasov 1: Kronospan 0
Cluj-Napoca, 12 March 2010 – The Brasov Court of Appeal (1) suspended in an irrevocable judgment (2) the environmental accord issued by the Brasov Environmental Protection Agency (EPA Brasov) for Kronospan Romania’s composite wood (PAL) industrial plant in the town of Brasov. The court action was promoted by the Independent Centre for the Development of Environmental Resources (ICDER). The suspension is valid until the final settlement of the case whose aim is to have Kronospan’s environmental accord annulled.
Kronospan Romania is the largest producer of wood based panels in South-Eastern Europe and a branch of the multi-national company Kronospan. In Romania Kronospan is operating in 3 different locations: Sebes, Brasov and Constanta. Kronospan’s activities in Sebes and Brasov gravely violate applicable legislation for environmental and construction permitting, and have already a caused significant negative impact on the health of local people and the environment, due to the emission of toxic substances used for the production of the wood panels (i.e. formaldehyde).
In February 2008 Kronospan started constructing a new PAL wood composite production plant in the town of Brasov. This move provoked negative reactions and worries from the part of the locals directly affected by the works. Well over 7000 petitions against the new plant were submitted by citizens of Brasov to the competent authorities. The construction works for the new plant was started environmental accord and in the absence of a construction authorization. Almost half way through the construction works Kronospan requested EPA Brasov to start an environmental impact assessment procedure for the plant and to issue an environmental accord. As a consequence, EPA Brasov carried out a public consultation process and issued environmental accord no 8/12 August 2009. Ever since the procedure’s onset, ICDER as well as many citizens from Brasov contested the decision; showing in detail how the procedure infringes upon European Directives 85/337/EEC on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment, 2001/42/EC on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programs on the environment as well as 96/82/EC on the control of major-accident hazards involving dangerous substances (SEVESO II).
In the court action leading to the suspension of environmental accord issued by EPA Brasov for Kronospan, ICDER proved, amongst others, that legal and factual grounds generated reasonable doubts and concerns on the legality of the administrative act itself as well as on the wood composite plant’s potential to cause severe and irreparable damage to the population and the environment’s health. These effects are related to the use in the production process of several dangerous substances such as formaldehydes. These are classified by the World Health Organization as carcinogens.
During the course of the legal challenge, EPA Brasov also issued Kronospan an environmental authorization (no 295/27 October 2009), necessary for putting the plant into usage. Based on this authorization, Kronospan has been exploiting the Brasov installation since autumn 2009.
“The validity of the environmental authorization is strictly connected to the validity of the environmental accord first issued for a project. We therefore consider that Kronospan is legally no longer entitled to exploit the installation in Brasov and we will take all legal means to ensure they will abide the court verdict”, declares Attorney Andreea Ciurea who defended ICDER’s interests in the case.
Executive Director of ICDER Stefania Simion commented: “We find it truly disturbing that one decade into the 21st century the Romanian public is still having to take responsibility for stopping companies like Kronospan polluting the environment and damaging people’s health. Romania deserves better, and we call on the relevant authorities, whose salaries we finance as taxpayers, to start acting responsibly in cases of this kind.”
(1) File no 8194/62/2009
(2) Decision 196/R/2010