The European Union has tightened rules governing large industrial plants with a new law designed to cut premature deaths and boost the adoption of clean technologies.
The EU Council voted yesterday to adopt the industrial emissions directive, introducing tighter rules governing emissions of pollutants, including sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen compounds, dust particles, asbestos and heavy metals.
"The [vote] is a milestone in industrial pollution control in the European Union," said EU environment commissioner Janez Potočnik in a statement. "It will help ensure the level of protection from industrial pollution that EU citizens deserve. It will substantially strengthen the current legal framework, further reducing air and other environmental pollution and become an important driver for eco-innovation."
In particular, the directive strengthens the Best Available Techniques (BAT) standard, requiring new plants to use the cleanest available technology from 2012, four years earlier than initially proposed.
Existing plants have to comply with BAT from 2016, either through immediate installation of clean tech, or declining annual emission caps that will force them to upgrade. However, plants slated to close by the end of 2023 or those that operate fewer than 17,500 hours after 2016 will not need to upgrade.
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