Naturvernforbundet / Friends of the Earth Norway and Natur og Ungdom / Young Friends of the Earth Norway are suing the Norwegian government over the granting of a permit for the dumping of 170 million tonnes of toxic mining waste into the Førdefjord. The two organisations believe that the Ministry of Climate and Environment’s approval of the permit clearly violates Norway’s Pollution Control Act and the EU Mining Waste Directive.
The Førdefjord is a species-rich and intact place, as well as a national salmon fjord connected to four salmon-carrying rivers. The seabed is home to rich flora and fauna, including endangered and vulnerable species.
Dumping of mining waste has no place in the future, neither in the Førdefjord nor any other fjord. The case is coming before the Oslo district court on September 18th, 2023.
A toxic project
Firstly, the organisations claim that the Ministry of Climate and Environment’s approval of the discharge permit and the Ministry of Trade and Fisheries’ approval of the operating license for this mining project violates waste regulations, both in Norway and with the EU’s mining waste directive. The absence of a waste management plan is also denounced.
Additionally, the project fails to prevent the ecological degradation of the waterbody, which raises doubts about it respecting Norway’s water regulations and the EU’s water framework directive.
Furthermore, the negative impact on biodiversity and insufficient waste reuse examination are serious concerns.
Key reasons for the lawsuit
Key reasons Friends of the Earth Norway and Young Friends of the Earth Norway are suing the state:
- The mining company has received all important permits; there are no more administrative appeal options.
- The mining company has not sufficiently investigated how the project can be designed in a way that provides maximum waste minimisation and avoids the need for submarine tailings disposal.
- The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Surveillance Authority has identified several shortcomings in the Norwegian implementation of the EU Mining Waste Directive.
- There are several indications that the submarine tailings disposal is unnecessary and thus illegal according to the Norwegian pollution act.
- Sufficient legal protection for nature depends on the courts hearing cases on questionable administrative decisions that have an impact on the environment.
You can find more information about the affair on Friends of the Earth Norway’s website.