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Concerns raised in Austria over #MMVF

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Austrian state television ORF has recently published an article describing manmade vitreous fibres (MMVF), also known as mineral wool, as being “as carcinogenic as asbestos’, unrecyclable and not even suitable for incineration, but instead piling up on landfill sites, writes Martin Banks.

The ORF article claims that, like asbestos, it is carcinogenic. The piece adds that the price for using these mineral fibres as insulation material is “even higher than expected”.

ORF describes how, in their view, it cannot be practically recycled, resulting in “mountains of mineral wool, packed in dustproof sacks, that end up in the landfill”.

ORF go on to describe how the Hasenöhrl company in St.Pantaleon-Erla near Enns operates one of these landfills. According to the television stations news website, if one was to stack the mineral wool that was delivered last year alone, it would be a five-meter-high hill the size of a football field.

Rudolf Faltinger from the Hasenöhrl company is quoted by ORF, saying: "Tell wool has been installed everywhere for the past 30-40 years. And with every renovation measure, this mineral wool is produced."

The ORF new website describes how decades-old mineral wool is carcinogenic like asbestos.

This means that it counts as hazardous waste, which has been packed and transported in its own dustproof bags in accordance with a 2017 law.

ORF also goes on to discuss the cost of disposing of the material, claiming it is three times as much as before. The article mentions that it cannot be burned because the mineral fibres would immediately move the filters of the waste incineration plants, leaving landfill as the only option.

A link to article is here: article 

EU Today has also published a report on the health risks of MMVF.

Austria

Investment Plan for Europe in Austria: Fresh lending to help households and businesses build energy-efficient homes 

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The EIB Group has provided a financial guarantee to Hypo Vorarlberg Bank in Austria to expand its lending capacity for households, SMEs and mid-cap customers. This agreement is backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the main pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe. Thanks to this new agreement, Hypo Vorarlberg will be able to support the construction of highly energy-efficient residential buildings, thus helping the environment and the Austrian economy in the challenging COVID-19 context.

Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said: “Thanks to this support from the Investment Plan for Europe, Hypo Vorarlberg will be able to increase its lending capacity to households, SMEs and mid-caps for the construction of new energy-efficient homes. This initiative will help the hard-hit construction sector in this difficult time, as well as contributing to the achievement of our climate goals.”

The press release is available here. The Investment Plan for Europe has so far mobilized €535 billion of investment across the EU, benefitting over 1.4 million SMEs in total.

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Commission approves Austrian measures to support rail freight and passenger operators affected by the coronavirus outbreak

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The European Commission has approved, under EU state aid rules, two Austrian measures supporting the rail freight sector and one measure supporting the rail passenger sector in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The two measures supporting the rail freight sector will ensure increased public support to further encourage the shift of freight traffic from road to rail, and the third measure introduces temporary relief for rail operators providing passenger services on a commercial basis.

The Commission found that the measures are beneficial for the environment and for mobility as they support rail transport, which is less polluting than road transport, while also decreasing road congestion. The Commission also found that the measures are proportionate and necessary to achieve the objective pursued, namely to support the modal shift from road to rail whilst not leading to undue competition distortions. Finally, the waiver of infrastructure access charges provided for in the second and third measures described above is in line with the recently adopted Regulation (EU) 2020/1429.

This Regulation allows and encourages member states to temporarily authorize the reduction, waiver or deferral of charges for accessing rail infrastructure below direct costs. As a result, the Commission concluded that the measures comply with EU state aid rules, in particular the 2008 Commission Guidelines on state aid for railway undertakings (the Railway Guidelines).

Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “The measures approved today will enable the Austrian authorities to support not only rail freight transport operators, but also commercial passenger operators in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. This will contribute to maintaining their competitiveness compared to other modes of transport, in line with the EU Green Deal objective. We continue working with all member states to ensure that national support measures can be put in place as quickly and effectively as possible, in line with EU rules.”

The full press release is available online

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Europe needs more robust plan to deal with foreign fighters, Austria says

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The European Union needs a more robust and coordinated plan for dealing with foreign fighters and those who want to join their ranks like the jihadist who killed four people in Vienna last week, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Monday (9 November), writes Francois Murphy.

Protecting the bloc’s borders should also be part of Europe’s response to Islamist militancy, which Kurz will discuss with the leaders of France, Germany and the European Union today (10 November), he told a news conference.

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