State aid: Commission approves €21 million Czech aid to support environmental clean-up of site of former refinery in Ostrava

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a Czech measure to support the environmental clean-up of the former OSTRAMO refinery. All industrial activities of the refinery, located in the Czech city of Ostrava, ceased in 1997. Despite the closure and termination of activities of the refinery, the site is still contaminated, in particular by petroleum hydrocarbons which are normally present in crude oil. The support, with a budget of approximately CZK 600 million (approximately €21 million), will take the form of a direct grant to the lessee of the site of the former OSTRAMO refinery, Global Networks s.r.o. The measure is intended to support the decontamination of the soil and the demolition of buildings necessary for the remediation of the contaminated site itself. The Commission assessed the measure under EU State aid rules, in particular the Guidelines on State aid for environmental protection and energy 2014-2020. The Commission found that the measure will protect the health and well-being of citizens from environment-related risks and impact, in line with the European Green Deal. The Commission also found that the aid is limited to the minimum necessary and that the positive effects of the aid on the environment and public health outweigh any potential negative effect brought about by the public intervention. Finally, the Commission concluded that the measure is in line with the “polluter pays principle”. Pursuant to this principle, the costs of measures to deal with pollution should be borne by the company who causes the pollution. Therefore, aid for the decontamination of sites can be granted only if the beneficiary company is not responsible for the pollution. In this case, the Commission concluded that the aid beneficiary is not responsible for the contamination. On this basis, the Commission approved the measure under EU State aid rules. More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website in the public case registerunder the case number SA.55522 once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.