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Europol warns of increase in illegal waste dumping

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The Hague, the Netherlands
As part of its responsibility to monitor developments in the threat from organised crime in Europe, Europol has identified an increase in the volume of illegal waste shipments across borders, spurred by economic growth and globalisation. Driven by an exceptional ‘low risk – high profit’ margin, illegal waste trafficking and disposal activities have become one of the fastest growing areas of organised crime.
In the EU, the illegal trafficking of waste is particularly rising between countries in North West and North East Europe. Criminals are exploiting the high costs associated with legal waste management and are making substantial profits from illegal trafficking and disposal activities, circumventing environmental legislation. They make use of a wide variety of improvised illegal dumping sites such as gravel and sand pits, abandoned industrial facilities and open-cast mines.                  
Illegal waste disposal in the EU is organised by sophisticated networks of criminals with a clear division of roles (e.g. collection, transportation, recovery or legal expertise). Affected Member States are substantially affected by the ecological damage, public health risk and the financial burden associated with the retrieval of illegal waste repositories, particularly across borders. An example is 134 000 tonnes of waste which was illegally dumped at a large gravel pit in North East Europe. The extraction and transport of this illegally-dumped waste cost 160 euros per tonne, which adds up to over 21 million euros. In cases where the illegally-dumped materials are classified as hazardous waste, the costs amount to 300 euros per tonne for extraction and transport.
Europol  and national experts have drawn up a series of recommendations, including:
Exchange of best practice between national experts involved in combating illegal waste management in the framework of ‘EnviCrimeNet’ (e.g. using risk profiling to identify potential illegal disposal sites and protecting public officials from the hazards associated with the retrieval of illegal waste repositories).
Adoption of a multi-agency approach during waste transport control operations and visits to suspected illegal waste disposal sites that includes the relevant law enforcement and environmental inspectorates, supported by a regular exchange of information between the relevant policing actors at a national level. 

Europol press release -  30 August 2011

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