The Court of Justice held in its judgment that escaped sewage was indeed waste. In particular, it held that waste water which leaks accidentally falls within the ambit of Directive 75/442. The fact that waste water escapes from a sewerage network does not affect its character as ‘waste’ within the meaning of Directive 75/442. The escape of waste water from a sewerage network constitutes an event by which the sewerage undertaker, the holder of that waste water, ‘discards’ it. The fact that the waste water is spilled accidentally does not alter the outcome.
The Court has held previously that accidental spillage of hydrocarbons onto land may be characterized as an action by which the holder of those hydrocarbons ‘discards’ them (see, see Case C-1/03 Van de Walle and others, paragraph 47). The Court also held that Directive 75/442 would be made redundant in part if hydrocarbons which cause contamination were not considered waste on the sole ground that they were spilled by accident (Case C-1/03 Van de Walle and others, at paragraph 48). The same reasoning applied, according to the Court, to waste water which leaks accidentally.