Bulgarian Lead, Zinc Complex to Pay Fine for Environmental BreachesIndustry | September 26, 2011, Monday // 15:41| views
Bulgarian lead and zinc smelter OTZK. Photo by BGNES
The Administrative Court in Kardzhali has confirmed a fine of BGN 60 000 imposed on Bulgarian lead and zinc smelter, OTZK, over its noncompliance with the integrated environmental permit.
Viktor Atanasov, head of the administrative court in the Southeastern Bulgarian town, announced Monday that this was the biggest penalty upheld so far in the region.
Among the breaches committed by OTZK-Kardzhali are the uncontrolled release of harmful gas emissions as part of the production process and the impermissible content of dust and sulfur dioxide around the chimneys of the plant.
The company owned by Valentin Zahariev's Intertrust Holding explained its failure to observe the environmental standards with the insufficient time it had been given to select an external contractor to build a cleaning facility and the inability of the company to allocate money for such programs due to intercompany indebtedness and the financial crisis.
Kardzhali's Administrative Court, however, did not accept the motives, stating that OTZK had had plenty of time to ensure compliance, given that the Ministry of Environment and Water issued the permit back in 2006.
The fine was imposed after a check of the Haskovo Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Water carried out after multiple reports of industrial air pollution.
In 2010, OTZK broke air pollution norms 88 times, and in 2009 it breached legal limits 203 times, compared to the EU cap of 24 instances of pollution per spot per year.
The serious environmental violations exposed Bulgaria to the threat of a new infringement procedure launched by the European Commission.
As a result, OTZK announced a halt of lead production in April 2011.
The Kardzhali-based lead and zinc smelter is to unveil a new lead plant.
Valentin Zahariev has threatened to sue Bulgaria for missed profits amounting to BGN 46 M due to the excessively delayed procedures for evaluating environmental impact.
The company has already lodged a claim for BGN 7 M with the Administrative Court in Kardzhali.
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