China’s New Soil Law in a nutshell: what to know and what to do
Date:2018-10-26Pv: 160

This short writeup aims at helping foreign corporations understand the “Chinese Characteristics” of China’s new Soil Law (published 31/8/2018, effective 1/1/2019) and provides some practical recommendations.


Seven differences


1) The Law’s principles are similar to the west(prevention, protection, classification, risk control, pollution responsibility, public participation).


2) The implementation has many differences insoil sampling approach, testing parameters, analytical standards, risk screening levels and assessment methodology, making reports using western standards invalid.


3) Transfer or change of land use to sensitive use of any potentially polluted sites and any potentially polluting companiesissubject to investigation and remediation.


4) High pollution risk companiesnot only need to develop a soil pollution risk identification and prevention plan but are also required to do regular disclosure of results of self-monitoring of soil and groundwaterquality.


5) The soil law does not specifically mention groundwaterbut implicitly does soby requiring pollution prevention, risk control and treatment measures for groundwater as applicable (further updates on the way).


6) The polluter pays, liability for cleanup of pollution from previous land users or neighbors is not for the current land user, but risk control actions may still be required first from the current land user, especially in case the pollution is causing damage or harm. A pollution Prevention Fund will be established,


7) Local government KPI have been adaptedaccordingly, legal liabilities for services providers have been established, and litigation is now possible.


Four measures


1) Leadership to check if the company is listed as “high-pollution-risk-company”, comply with obligations and anticipate consequences of financial disclosure.


2) EHS department to check if the company is considered as “potentially-polluting/polluted”, optimize costs of today’s risk management and tomorrow’s site closure obligations.


3) Legal department to review existing reports of China assets, evaluate liabilities and evaluate the need for renewing baselines.


4) Legal and EHS departments to review transactional procedures and templates and monitor regulationson Groundwater & Pollution Prevention Fund.



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