British ambassador criticizes ‘illegal waste exports’ from UK, urges Romanian authorities to prosecute criminal activity

Foto: INQUAM/Melinda Nagy

Britain’s Ambassador to Romania, Andrew Noble, has criticized reports of criminal activity involving illegal waste exports from UK to Romania and urged authorities to prosecute wrongdoers.

“If there is evidence of criminal behavior, I encourage the Romanian authorities to pursue the perpetrators with all the rigor of the law. We take such matters very seriously in the UK,” the ambassador said Friday.  

Noble’s comments came after Environment Minister Costel Alexe this week claimed waste from Britain smuggled into Romania is to blame for air pollution in Bucharest.

Alexe alleged that in recent weeks, 25 containers, each carrying 20 tons of waste from Britain, entered Romania via the Black Sea port of Constanta. It was then either dumped or incinerated illegally by waste disposal companies, he said. Romania has already returned seven containers to Britain.

The UK’s Environment Agency says: “the illegal export of waste is a crime and we will not hesitate to take action against those responsible with offenders facing either a two-year jail term and an unlimited fine,” an embassy statement said.

The Environment Agency this year launched a new task force dedicated to tackling serious and organized waste crime, such as dumping hazardous materials on private land and falsely labeling waste so it can be exported abroad to unsuspecting countries.

The agency’s main focus is on disrupting potential illegal shipments through upstream intervention at waste sites to prevent it being exported in the first place.

In 2018/19, the agency inspected 926 shipping containers at port and returned 236 of those to sites. The same year, they prevented 12,690 tons of waste from being illegally exported through intervention at sites and ports, the statement said.

 Seven companies and 15 individuals were successfully prosecuted from  2014/15 and 2018/19 for waste export offenses, the statement said.

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