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In Review: Environmental Protection Regulations in Japan

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Environmental Protection

i Air quality

The Air Pollution Prevention Act regulates SO emissionsXNOX, soot and dust, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), mercury and other substances designated by the relevant ministerial order, and the emission standards applicable to each of these controlled substances are stipulated in the ministerial order concerning. The obligations under the law only apply to installations which emit controlled substances and fall within one of the categories of installations listed in the relevant ministerial decree (such installations include those generally used in the refining activities of metals, the petrochemical industry, the organic chemical industry, the inorganic chemical industry and waste disposal) and exceed the threshold of the scale also specified in the same ministerial decree.

No permit or approval is required for the installation of regulated installations, but a person wishing to install a regulated installation must file a preliminary file with a competent department of the prefecture territorially competent for the planned location of this installation, and cannot initiate payment until 60 days have elapsed from deposit. During the 60-day review period, a prefecture examines the file submitted and can issue an order modifying or abandoning the installation plan for the installation if it does not comply with the applicable emission standards. These emission standards are applied to regulated installations on a continuous basis after the installation has been completed, and the prefectures can issue an improvement order or an order temporarily suspending the operation of such an installation in the event of a ‘offense. In addition, a total emission control regime is applied to areas designated in the Ministerial Decree as areas requiring stricter restrictions than legal water quality standards to achieve and maintain environmental quality standards in these areas. areas.

The Air Pollution Prevention Act also authorizes the Minister of the Environment to set emission standards for automobiles. These emissions standards will be reflected and incorporated into vehicle safety standards under the Road Transport Vehicles Act and reviewed during mandatory vehicle inspections.

ii Water quality

The Water Pollution Prevention Law regulates the discharge into public waters of water containing harmful substances designated by ministerial decree and sets water quality standards (these standards are stipulated in the Ordinance department so as to set a maximum authorized level for each category). harmful substances). The obligations under the law only apply to installations which fall within one of the categories of installations listed in the Ministerial Order as installations emitting liquid waste (such installations include those generally used in the petrochemical industry, organic chemical industry, inorganic chemical industry, animal husbandry industry and food processing industry).

No permit or approval is required for the installation of regulated installations, but a person wishing to install a regulated installation must file a preliminary file with a competent department of the prefecture territorially competent for the planned location of this installation, and cannot initiate payment until 60 days have elapsed from that deposit. During this 60-day review period, a prefecture examines the file submitted and can issue an order modifying or abandoning the installation plan for the installation if it does not meet the quality standards of applicable water. These water quality standards apply to regulated facilities continuously after the facility is completed, and prefectures may issue an improvement order or an order temporarily suspending the operation of such a facility. facility in the event of a violation. In addition, a total emission volume control regime is applied to the areas designated in the Ministerial Decree as areas requiring stricter restrictions than the statutory emission standards to achieve and maintain the environmental quality standards in these areas. The prefectures with territorial jurisdiction over these designated areas must draw up an overall reduction plan and set overall volume standards applicable to regulated facilities emitting water exceeding the thresholds set by ministerial order.

Regulations made under the Water Pollution Prevention Act do not apply to discharges of water into sewer systems operated under the Sewer Act, and the Sewer Act provides a similar type of regulatory regime to control the quality of water to be discharged into sewer systems.

iii Chemicals

The Chemical Substances Control Act3 comprehensively regulates the process of safety review, manufacture, import and use of new chemical substances to prevent environmental pollution and risks to human health and the ecosystem. The law was enacted in 1973 and chemicals produced and distributed before this legislation were listed on the Existing Chemical Substances Registry and are treated as “existing chemical substances” under the law. If a chemical manufacturer or importer intends to manufacture or import a new chemical substance, they must file an application and go through the safety review process conducted by government agencies. Based on the results of this review, the new chemical will be classified into one of five categories based on its risk to the environment, human health and the ecosystem.

Of the five categories, “Type 1 Specified Chemical Substances” are the most regulated and a manufacturer or importer must obtain a permit for the production or import of these. However, the manufacture and import of chemical substances in the other four categories are only subject to annual declaration obligations. If certain legal requirements are met, regulators can issue a change order to reduce the amount of Type 2 Specified Chemical Substances that a manufacturer or importer can manufacture or import.

In addition, under the PRTR Act,4 certain types of commercial operators manufacturing, using or releasing designated chemical substances are legally required to annually report the amount of release or transfer of these substances and the national government prepares and discloses statistical data based on these reports.

iv Solid and hazardous waste

The Law on Waste Management and Public Cleaning regulates the generation, transport and disposal of solid and hazardous waste. Under the law, it is clearly provided that commercial operators are primarily responsible for the disposal of industrial waste generated by their activities and this legal responsibility remains even if commercial operators duly subcontract the transport and disposal of waste. manufacturers to an approved waste transport/disposal company. operator. An operator who generates at least 1,000 MT of waste per year must prepare and submit a waste reduction and elimination plan and report on the status of implementation of this plan to the competent department of the competent prefecture.

To carry out an activity of transport or disposal of industrial waste, a business permit must be obtained from the competent prefecture. The standards for examining an application for a business permit are stipulated in the law and the relevant ministerial order. Requirements for this permit include sufficient facilities and the ability of the applicant to properly and continuously operate the waste transportation/disposal business; “capacity” includes the financial strength of the applicant. The financial strength requirement usually involves a review of the total amount of funds needed to start the business, details of the steps to obtain funds, and the applicant’s financial statements, such as balance sheets and profit and loss accounts. .

In addition, the import and export of certain harmful wastes are regulated by the Law Concerning the Regulation of Export and Import of Specified Harmful Wastes, etc. (which is national law enacted to comply with treaty obligations under the Basel Convention) and a person wishing to import or export regulated hazardous wastes must obtain a permit in accordance with the procedures set out in the Foreign Exchange Act and the trade.

v Contaminated land

As a general law regulating the prevention and remediation of land contamination, the Land Contamination Control Measures Act divides contaminated land into two categories: “areas requiring remedial work” and “areas requiring remedial works”. subject to reporting obligations. These two types of areas are designated and publicly announced as regulated by prefectures based on information gathered during land inspections conducted under the Land Contamination Control Act or on a voluntary basis by landowners. . As an obligation to inspect land only exists if legal requirements are met and such requirements are met in very limited circumstances, there is no guarantee that areas which are not designated as regulated under the Land Contamination Measures Act are actually free from land contamination.

If (1) the result of a land inspection indicates that due to pollution by harmful substances, the land concerned does not comply with the standards set out in the Ministerial Order relating to the law and (2) a such pollution could potentially cause health damage, these lands will be classified as “Areas requiring remediation work” and the competent prefecture may order the owner to prepare, submit and implement a depollution plan. If (a) this pollution is attributable to another person, (b) the competent prefecture considers that it is appropriate to have this polluter carry out clean-up work, and (c) the owner does not oppose it, the prefecture must issue such an order to the polluter instead of the landowner (even if such an order is not issued to the polluter but to the landowner, it would not legally prevent or restrict any civil action by the landowner against the polluter) . Remedial actions allowed are not limited to the removal of land pollution and a landowner or polluter can choose from the types of remedial actions set out in the Ministerial Order relating to the law.

However, if requirement (1) above is met but requirement (2) is not, such land will fall under “Reportable Areas”. The owner of such land is not legally obliged to carry out repair work, but must submit a preliminary file if changes are made to the shape or nature of this land.