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Poland lets Polluters Pay - Progress in Defusing Environmental Hot Spots

26 Sep 2001 - Central authorities, municipalities and private enterprises succeeded in improving several of Poland´s environmental hot spots, which were identified in 1992 as part of the Baltic Sea Joint Comprehensive Environmental Action Programme of the Helsinki Commission. This was the outcome of a regional review meeting held in Cracow 25-26 September 2001. It re-assessed ten
environmental hot spots in Southern Poland.

"We are confident that all Polish hot spots in this area could be restored before 2013, the deadline of our environmental action programme", says Göte Svenson, Chairman of HELCOM PITF, the task force responsible for the implementation of the programme.

Two hot spots are currently being prepared to be wiped from the list: the Boleslaw Metallurgic and Mining Plants and the Boruta dye-stuffs plant in Zgierz. Others, like the wastewater treatment plant Kujawy in Cracow are likely to be deleted in the near future.

The progress has been due to major investments in municipal wastewater treatment and industrial installations in the past ten years. Overall, investments on environmental protection have increased five-fold since 1990.

Surprisingly, only 6% of the investments were coming from foreign sources. 94% originate from domestic funds, in many cases from the polluting plants themselves.

"Poland has put into place a very direct and successful way to force down pollution - by charging fines and fees for environmental pollution." comments Göte Svenson.

Thus, the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management was able to re-invest 200 million EURO to restore some of the hot spots. The result: in 1999, 86% of all industrial and municipal wastewater discharged into the water is being treated, i.e. 5.3 million cubic meters of wastewater
per day.

Despite the progress, Polish waters are still grimly burdened. As representatives from the Regional Board for Water Management reported, the water quality in large stretches of the Vistula river and its upper
tributaries is so bad the water cannot be used for industrial or agricultural production.

Furthermore, in some cases environmental pollution stems from "old sins", ¨ like at the chemical plant "Organika-Azot" in Jaworzno. Here, the ground is severely polluted by pesticides due to earlier production technologies and leaking waste storage sites.

In total, Poland hosts 36 hot spots. The remaining 26 will be re-assessed next year.

Throughout the Baltic Sea region a total of 132 Hot Spots were identified. So far, 22 have been deleted.

For further information please contact:

Mr. Claus Hagebro, Coordinator of the Programme Implementation Task Force of the Helsinki Commission, phone: +358-9-62202223, fax: +358-9-62202239, email:

Mr. Göte Svenson, Chairman of HELCOM PITF, phone: +46-8-618 8357, fax: +46-8-618 8357

Mr. Dariusz Jan Stanislawski, Ministry of the Environment of Poland, phone: +48-22-5792367
fax: +48-22-5792263, email:

Ms. Adriana Dembowska, Ministry of the Environment of Poland, phone:+48-58-341 3041,
fax: +48-58-341 4754, email:

Ms. Monika Stankiewicz, Polish Secretariat for the Helsinki Convention,
phone: +48-58-341 9444, fax: +48-58-341 4754, email:

Wednesday 26 Sep 2001
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