Repealed the odour regulation of Apulia, Italy

on . . Agerraldiak: 3437

 arcelormittal taranto  The region of Apulia in sourthern Italy published last year a new legislation on odour management, the Legge Regionale Puglia 32/2018. This legislation was a bit different from other odour legislations around the world cause it defined different odour impact criteria (OIC) according to the sensitivity of the people affected by the odour impact. Last week the Constitutional Court of Italy repealed this new legislation. Why?

 Taranto is a beautiful coastal city in the region of Apulia that happen to be also the location of Europe's largest steelworks. This factory, now part of ArcelorMittal, was key in Italian 2018 election campaign. At that time the Italian party Five star Movement promised to close the factory after years and years of odour complaints and other environmental issues.

 Now the Five Star Movement is in charge of the Italian government and of course they did not close the plant, but instead they handed it to the new owners. Probably the region of Apulia foresaw this situation and that is why they issued a new Regional Law on odour management (Legge Regionale Puglia 32/2018), repealing, by the way, the previous one (Legge Regionale Puglia 23/2015).

   This interesting and thorough regulation consists of 9 articles and a Technical Annex that is in fact, the most important part of the legislation. There are many aspects to consider in this legislation, some of them new, some of them not that new. An interesting approach in this legislation is a new set of Odour Impact Criteria (OIC) based on the sensitivity of the receptors, according to the following table.

Receptor Class Description of the class OIC
1 Residential areas with an edification index over 1,5 m³/m² 1 ouε/m³
2 Buildings with a collective continuous use (hospitals, schools, etc) 1 ouε/m³
3 Residential areas with an edification index below 1,5 m³/m² 2 ouε/m³
4 Buildings or areas with a collective commercial continuous use (markets, offices, monuments) 2 ouε/m³
5 Buildings or areas with a collective discontinuous use (fairs, stadiums, religious places, etc) 3 ouε/m³
6 Areas with a prevalent industrial, livestock or agricultural use 4 ouε/m³
7 Areas with buildings with not constant presence of human groups (farmlands, uninhabited areas) 5 ouε/m³
8 Touristic areas, even though they are close to another area with a natural value. 1 ouε/m³

 These odour levels should not be exceeded more than 175 hours every year, and they are fixed no matter the offensiveness of the odour perceived.

   Now, this legislation was of application to a list of almost 100 industrial activities included in the Directive 2010/75/EU, the so called the European Industrial Emission Directive (IED) in force, by the way, in 28 European countries. That is, this regulation of the region of Apulia included that steelworks in Taranto.

   However, the Constitutional Court in last week sentence has rewritten this regional legislation, stating that it cannot be applicable to activities under the IED. That is, it is not applicable to this plant in Taranto. With this sentence, the Constitutional Court has left the region of Apulia, and thus the rest of Italian regions a bit more unprotected and powerless to tackle odour impact in their territories.  Why did the Constitutional Court do so?

   This question is difficult to answer, above all considering that the former Italian Government did a small modification in the Italian regulation on environment, adding the article 272-bis, giving the regions of Italy the power to regulate an odour impact. So this sentence is difficult to understand and it does not protect the citizens of Taranto, and why not? It does not protect either the interests of this steelworks of Taranto.

   A pity.

   Italy has a few regional regulations on odours, learn more about them here.


   If you find this article interesting, you might also be interested in these articles.


Comments (1)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Dear Carlos,
With regard to your post, here are the facts that should be considered in my opinion.

1) Apulia Region has a quite long history with odour legislation.
The first one (Regional Law n. 7/1999) is dated January 1999. That former law...

Dear Carlos,
With regard to your post, here are the facts that should be considered in my opinion.

1) Apulia Region has a quite long history with odour legislation.
The first one (Regional Law n. 7/1999) is dated January 1999. That former law set two emission limit values for emissions of odorants to air: for odorants having an odour threshold less than 0,001 ppm the emission limit value was 5 ppm; for odorants having an odour threshold between 0,001 ppm and 0,010 ppm the emission limit value was 20 ppm. Those emission limit values applied for every kind of emission to air, regardless the kind of environmental permit.
The second one (Regional Law 23/2015) is dated April 2015 and replaced the first one. The Law 23/2015 applied to both IED and not-IED installations and is more complex. The compliance with the law had to be considered and checked by the competent authority during the administrative procedure towards the issuing of the environmental permit. This law provided the application of both dynamic olfactometry and specified chemical methods. The key element of the law was the table of emission limit values for a locked list of single odorants.

2) The Constitution of the Italian Republic states that that in some fields both the State and the Regions can issue laws, but in some other fields only the central State can issue laws. The matter is very complex: please consider that I am simplifying a bit the matter. According the Constitution, environment is a field where only the central State can issue laws. In fact, all the Regions (Lombardia, Piemonte, Emilia Romagna, etc.) which issued regional regulations about odours do not issued laws, but other types of documents, mainly guidelines. Puglia was the only one what issued a law. This conflict between the Regional laws about odour in Puglia and the Constitution was highlighted many times in the past.

3) According to the national Environmental Act (D.Lgs 152/2006), for some specified kinds of IED installations (refineries, steel production plants, big chemical plants, ...) the competent authority is the central State (the Ministry of Environment); for the other ones the competent authority is the Region. The ENI refinery in Taranto and the ILVA (now ArcelorMittal) steel production plant in Taranto are both under the competence of the central State. The Apulia Region has no any direct authority in issuing environmental prescriptions towards these two installations: the IED permits are issued by the Ministry.

4) It is quite acknowledged that whereas the environmental impact on particulate matters and heavy metals in Taranto is mainly produced by the steel production plant, the odour nuisance perceived in Taranto is mainly caused by the refinery.

5) As you know, last year the national law on environment (D.Lgs 152/2006) was changed, adding a new article 272-bis about odour emissions. This change allows explicitly the Regions to issue regulations about odours, since such an authority was not obvious when reading the Constitution. Even before article 272-bis was issued by the government, I raised the doubt that the formulation was unclear: in my view the proposed article 272-bis seemed not to apply to IED installations. When article 272-bis was issued, the question whether the article regarded also IED installations was debated but remained unresolved. The regional government of Puglia interpreted article 272-bis as the Regions are allowed to issue regulations that apply also to IED installations.

6) The last regional law about odours in Puglia (Regional Law n. 32/2018) discards the locked list of emission limit values for single odorants and adopts an approach more similar to the one adopted in the regional regulations issued by the other regions (Lombardia, Piemonte, ...). But (and THIS is the key problem) the new law applies explicitly to non-IED installations, to IED installation under the regional competence (e.g. waste management plants) and to IED installations under the national competence (e.g. ENI refinery and ArcelorMittal steel production plant). A Region is not allowed to set prescriptions for IED installations which are under the national competence, therefore under this point the Regional Law n. 32/2018 was clearly not compliant with the national law! This prominent error was clear to everybody, but the regional government in Puglia ignored this conflict with the national law.

7) Just after the publication of Apulia Regional Law n. 32/2018, the (new) national government explained publicly that the article 272-bis does NOT allow Regions to issue regulations for IED installation, at all. (In my view, this position of the government is compliant with the strict interpretation of the Environmental Act, but it is opposite to the prevailing opinions expressed by many members of one (the Five Stars Movement) of the parties that are in the government itself). The national government decided to appeal to the Constitutional Court against the Apulia Regional Law n. 32/2018.

8 ) In my view, all this affair about odour regulations is quite far from the other huge affair regarding ArcelorMittal. I cannot see the link that you examined in your article. The main novelty of the decision of the Constitutional Court is that article 272-bis does not allow Regions to issue odour regulations for IED installations, at all.

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