Central Europe and US Exchange on Environmental Compliance
Czech Environmental Inspectorate, in cooperation with the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the INECE Network, coordinated a two-phase joint project on environmental inspections and enforcement with participants from the Visegrad Group countries of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia (V4). In the first phase, participants from the V4 countries traveled to the USA on 20-25 September 2010. The second phase was executed on 18-21 October 2010 when two U.S. experts traveled to a regional meeting convened in the Czech Republic.
During the week in Washington D.C., the participants experienced a series of seminars, workshops, and briefings to exchange information and ideas on compliance and enforcement aspects of pollution control and of natural resource management.
On the pollution side, topics included pollution-control mechanisms; compliance promotion and assistance programs; management of hazardous waste operations; contaminated site remediation; and program performance measures, analysis, and planning. The study tour group participated in a site visit to one of the largest wastewater treatment plants in the country, as well as visiting a landfill with a waste-to-energy incinerator.
On the natural resources side, topics included an overview of national parks law enforcement and protection issues and specific law enforcement issue areas, such as wilderness and specially protected areas, officer training, timber theft, and off-road vehicle use. The V4 study tour participants were invited to a site visit at Shenandoah National Park hosted by the US Forest Service and National Park Service.
During the second phase, discussions went into greater depth on key environmental enforcement issues relating to the specific situations in the V4 countries.
On the pollution side, the discussion focused on contaminated site remediation, program performance measures, analysis and planning. A Hungarian expert shared remarks on the red mud disaster in Ajka after the collapse of the waste storage ponds. The study tour group participated in a site visit to large chemical installation and old silver mine in Central Bohemia.
On the natural resources side, the balance between forest management and nature protection requirements was discussed. The host country presented the Czech National Forest Program, which is designed to facilitate a dialogue among stakeholders to find a balance between economical, environmental, and social requirements. Topics discussed also included an overview of law enforcement in forests within the protected areas, protection of endangered species, illegal logging, violation of reforestration duty, as well as special management within the Natura 2000 sites (designed in accordance European Birds and Habitats Directives). The V4 study tour participants were invited to a site visit at Protected Landscape Area Broumovsko.
As follow-up to the two workshops, a list of the best practices will be issued as a basis for future use in V4 countries. Reports from the programme with findings from the exchange of experiences will be presented at the relevant institutions and meetings and disseminated through IMPEL and INECE networks. Participants of the workshops will share their knowledge and recommendations from the project as the trainers in their own organizations.