ROME (Reuters) - A top European legal official advised judges to slap fines on Italy for its failure to clean up illegal landfill sites, hundreds of which contain dangerous waste, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) said on Thursday.
European Union advocate general Juliane Kokott said Italy had still not fully complied with a seven-year-old court ruling to clean up its illegal rubbish dumps, a statement said.
Kokott said Italy should pay a daily penalty of 158,200 euros (125,522 pounds) to the European Commission, plus a forfeit of 60 million euros.
Italy has struggled for more than a decade to manage waste which has built up to form some of Europe’s largest landfills and the vast “Land of the Fires” north of Naples where rubbish has been illegally dumped and burned, poisoning the environment.
The waste management business has also become fertile ground for organised crime in the country’s poorer south. Camorra mafia groups in and around Naples took over lucrative contracts and tipped rubbish from around the country and Europe into unauthorised sites, several court cases have shown.
The ECJ did not impose a previous request from the commission to fine Italy 61.5 million euros plus a daily 256,000 euros a day over the sites, 705 of which it found to contain toxic waste.
The EU advocate general, whose advice is usually followed by the ECJ, also concluded that Italy should introduce additional rules and regulations on ways to treat closed landfill sites.
Kokott also asked for sanctions to be imposed on Greece for its failure to comply with waste disposal regulations, but the 54,450 euro daily payment and 22 million euro fixed fine were notably less than those recommended for Italy.
Reporting by Isla Binnie; editing by Ralph Boulton