The Parliament’s changes, made during its first reading of the Directive on environmental quality standards in water, would require the Commission to review the existing 33-substance list within a year of the Directive entering into force.
The proposed additions include several pharmaceutical products and biocides, plus industrial chemicals such as bisphenol A and perfluooctanyl sulphonate (PFOS). Six of the substances should also be considered for inclusion in the list of higher-tier "priority hazardous substances", the MEPs decided.
The European Commission’s original proposals, released last summer, only set surface water standards (ENDS Report 379, p 48 ). The Parliament voted for an extension to cover concentrations in sediments and living organisms.
The Environment Department (DEFRA) held a consultation on the Commission’s original proposals at the end of last year (ENDS Report 384, p 38 ). The responses show that the water industry, its financial regulator Ofwat and the Environment Agency all have misgivings about the cost of the end-of-pipe treatment needed to remove trace quantities of widespread contaminants from sewage treatment effluent (ENDS Report 388, pp 38-39 ).
MEPs backed the concept of designated mixing zones around outfalls where pollutant concentrations could be permitted to exceed EU limits. But they said these should be phased out by 2018.