Albanian Environment Minister welcomes enhanced PRTR transparency

January 25, 2017 | By Eduart Cani

On January 24, 2017, following close cooperation with the Regional Environmental Center (REC), and with support from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety’s Advisory Assistance Programme (AAP) and the German Environment Agency, the National Environment Agency of Albania (NEA) launched an online reporting tool for the Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) system in Albania. The launch was announced at a public event in Tirana, Albania.

The event, covered by the national media, opened with an address from H.E. Lefter Koka, Minister of Environment of Albania. Koka praised the work of the project and involved institutions, stating that conditions for better control and monitoring, as well as public transparency, are now in place. He added that the next stage, implementation, relates to the enforcement of PRTR reporting and quality control of data.

The host of the event, NEA head Julian Beqiri, presented a range of issues related to pollutant control and reporting. He believes that upgrading and consolidation will make the NEA a more reliably competent institution. He also asked economic operators to participate in this initiative and offered to extend the full support of the NEA and its laboratories. In addition, he conveyed information about a series of trainings organised recently under the project, and ensured a continuous flow of information on emissions and releases and cooperation with the business sector.

“I’m happy to say that, for the first time, a website with data on pollution in the whole territory [of Albania] will be available to NGOs and the interested public,” Beqiri stated.

Such reporting is in line with European Union requirements, and Albania will soon fulfil its duty to report directly to the E-PRTR system managed by the European Environmental Agency.

“Some years have passed since Albania joined other countries in early ratification of the UNECE PRTR Protocol, and it has taken some combined effort, including work from the REC, to come here today with a very consolidated system of reporting,” said Mihallaq Qirjo, Director of REC Albania.

Qirjo sees this step as a milestone in opening up a new process that facilitates data collection, control and quality assurance—a dynamic system that can also provide information to authorities and citizens alike. He guaranteed that the REC will provide support for improving the reporting tool, including further dissemination of the information, consolidation of the PRTR website, and assistance with knowledge transfer.

The PRTR register will ensure public access to data from 250 companies under the PRTR list for Albania in relation to the amount of pollutants (emissions) in air, land and water, including wastewater. This includes routine, intentional and accidental release of pollutants, in addition to the transfer of waste. It reports on 91 main pollutants, including heavy metals, pesticides, greenhouse gases and dioxins. Reporting on diffuse sources will be added at a later date.

The operation of the register and successful data collection in Albania will: improve the possibility of obtaining a more efficient assessment of areas where environmental permits are granted; help to avoid potential conflicts with residents; strengthen requirements for operators to employ professional staff (technical specialists); and hold environmental monitoring laboratories to higher levels of accountability in terms of accuracy and reliability of their reports.

The project Support the Establishment and Advancement of Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTRs) in Western Balkan Countries and in the Republic of Moldova”, has been implemented by the Regional Environmental Center (REC) in cooperation with the National PRTR Focal Points and other country partners, and with the advisory support from the UNECE PRTR Protocol Secretariat.

TAGS: Albania | Pollution | Monitoring and reporting | European Union | PRTR protocol | Western Balkans