AROUND 1.8 million tonnes of waste is being produced in Bahrain every year, it has emerged.
It includes 894,000 tonnes of domestic refuse, 524,000 tonnes of construction and demolition waste, 98,000 tonnes of green litter and 30,000 tonne of industrial scrap – all of which are non-hazardous.
Supreme Council for Environment (SCE) waste management head Mohammed Aman said hazardous waste was being dealt with in different ways – 32,000 tonnes are treated locally, 25,000 tonnes recycled, 24,000 tonnes are taken to the landfill site in Hafeera and 9,500 tonnes exported.
SCE officials were present yesterday at the Capital Trustees Board meeting to present details on the new 2022 Environment Law, which confers more powers and responsibilities on the authority.
“The SCE will now deal with more types of waste that were not under its mandate earlier, like radioactive waste, ships, untreated sewage and hazardous healthcare waste, amongst others,” Mr Aman said.
“Around 1.8m tonnes of waste is generated annually and we are working with our partners in the Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning, and Industry, Commerce and Tourism Ministries and the National Health Regulatory Authority to tackle it.”
SCE source pollution control head Hassan Marzooq said industrial facilities would be obliged to have contingency plans for environmental emergencies.
“Precautionary measures are necessary to ensure the environment is protected and the SCE will instruct industrial facilities in this regard,” he added.
Under the new law, issued through a royal decree by His Majesty King Hamad, there is a maximum punishment of the death penalty for damaging the environment, or fines of BD1 million.
Those who import, bring, store, transport, bury or sink dangerous materials or waste will be jailed for up to three years and fined between BD15,000 and BD100,000.
However, if the materials or waste are nuclear, then the punishment will not be less than life in prison, which carries a 25-year sentence, or the death penalty with fines of between BD100,000 and BD1m.
The government-drafted bill also states that jail terms or fines could be doubled if the offence is repeated.
“The 1996 law only included 33 articles, while the new law has 125 articles that focuses on water, air and soil,” said SCE legal consultant Hassan Slaise.
“A new national fund for environment protection and development is also mentioned under law and it would be responsible for collection of fines alongside donations and government contributions,” he said.
“The SCE has been authorised to work alongside others to get proper compensation for environmental, economic, health and social damages.”
Meanwhile, SCE environment impact assessment acting head Hassan Abdulnabi said developers of all projects other than residential units will have to submit an environmental impact form.
Failure to conduct an environmental study for construction – excluding residential – and maintenance and upgrades to existing establishments carries a jail term of between two and five years and fines of between BD20,000 and BD500,000.
The same punishment applies to offshore or onshore oil leaks, leakages of harmful substances into the sea, and possession or disposal of ionised or ion-emitting equipment without permission.
Under the law, jail terms of up to three years and fines of between BD15,000 and BD200,000 will be imposed for dumping garbage or sewage into the sea.
General substantial harm to the environment will be punished with no less than a year in jail and fines of between BD10,000 and BD50,000.
Jail terms of between a year and two and fines of between BD1,000 and BD2,000 will be slapped on oil and gas companies that dispose or deposit unsafely or hide information from environmental impact assessment teams.
Twelve other punishments for dumping, contamination or destruction of environment assessment equipment, besides preventing inspectors from carrying out their job, are also listed in the legislation. The law, however, excludes the Defence and Interior Ministries and National Guards.
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