Czech border regions home to illegal rubbish dumps for German waste

Frydlant, photo: CTK

Firemen were called to the village of Libceves in North Bohemia on Monday to put out a fire in a warehouse. Nothing so unusual in that, but the warehouse was filled with rubbish illegally imported from Germany. The Czech authorities are battling with a tide of rubbish from across the border, which is often difficult to trace.

Frydlant,  photo: CTK
It's not the first time the warehouse in Libceves has been set on fire - firemen were called out on February 6th when someone set fire to the rubbish. The theory is someone started the fire to get rid of the evidence that the waste - textiles and shoes - had been imported illegally from Germany.

The case is not an isolated one. On Monday residents in the North Bohemian town of Frydlant discovered piles of plastic sacks filled with rubbish in garages belonging to a former farm. Danuse Hraska, from the local branch of the Czech Environmental Inspectorate, gave Radio Prague more details.

"The consignment we discovered yesterday in Frydlant is actually part of series of consignments that arrived some time in the middle of last year. Some of the consignments were shipped across the border legally, others were shipped illegally."

Frydlant,  photo: CTK
It seems Czech firms or individuals are importing German rubbish which is then stored in buildings such as abandoned warehouses. Often that transaction is illegal; the firms are not qualified to import or process waste. The presumption is that it's cheaper for the German firms in question to sell it to Czech importers rather than dispose of it at home in Germany.

As to what happens next, Danuse Hraska from the Czech Environmental Inspectorate says the Czechs want to send the rubbish back across the border.

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"Of course we want most of the rubbish sent back to Germany - that'll be decided by a meeting between in March the Czech and German environment ministries. Of course we'd want it all sent back and disposed of in Germany, but if that proves impossible, then it'll be up to the people who are renting the buildings where the rubbish is being stored."

Mrs Hraska described claims the Czech Republic was becoming a rubbish dump for richer EU countries like Germany was something of an exaggeration, but pointed out that other countries in the former eastern bloc - such as Poland - seem to be having the same problem.