- Ministry of Environment (South Korea)
Ministry of Environment,
Republic of Korea
환경부 Agency overview Formed December 24, 1994 Jurisdiction Government of South Korea Headquarters Gwacheon Government Complex, Gwacheon-si, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea Agency executives Lee Maan-ee, Minister
Mun Jeong-Ho, Vice Minister
Website Official English Site
The Ministry of Environment is the South Korean branch of government charged with environmental protection. The current minister is Lee Man Ee. In addition to enforcing regulations and sponsoring ecological research, the Ministry manages the national parks.
- 1 History
- 2 Green Growth
- 3 Major policies
- 4 Regulatory Reform
- 5 Ministers of the Environment
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The history of Ministry of Environment (South Korea), the environmental authority of the Republic of Korea, stems from Pollution Section of Ministry of Health and Society established in 1967, which was expanded to Pollution Division, in charge of environmental administration, in 1973. After several reform and expansion of environmental authority, Environment Administration had been launched as an affiliate of Ministry of Health and Society, in 1980. In January, 1990, Environment Administration was promoted to Ministry of Environment under the Office of Prime Minister, in order to efficiently integrate and coordinate environmental issues. In December, 1994, Ministry of Environment was given greater authority to establish and implement its own policies.
The mission of Ministry of Environment is to protect the national territory from threats of environmental pollution and improve the quality of life for the public so that the people can enjoy ambient natural environment, clean water and clear skies. Furthermore, we aim to contribute to the global efforts to protect our one and only Earth. In February, 2008, Korea Meteorological Administration became an affiliate of the Ministry to facilitate countermeasures against climate change.
The tasks of Ministry of Environment
- Enactment and amendment of environmental laws and regulations
- Introduction of environmental institutions
- Building up framework structure for environmental administration
- Drafting and implementation of mid-long term comprehensive measures for environmental conservation
- Setting up standards for regulations
- Providing administrative and financial support for environmental management to local governments
- Inter-Korean environmental cooperation
- Environmental cooperation with other countries.
History of the MOE (Ministry of Environment)History of the MOE (Ministry of Environment)
Sep. 1980 Korea Resources Recovery & Reutilization Corporation (KRRRC) established Jul. 1980 Six Regional Environmental Monitoring Offices set up Jan. 1980 Environment Administration (EA) established. Oct. 1986 The Regional Environmental Monitoring Offices enlarged and re-organized as Environmental Branch Offices. Mar. 1987 Environmental Management Corporation (EMC) established. Jan. 1990 EA upgraded to the MOE. Six Regional Environmental Management Offices established. May. 1991 Central Environmental Disputes Coordination Commission (CEDCC) established. Dec. 1991 Environmental Officers Training Institute (EOTI) established. Dec. 1994 As part of a major restructuring of the government, MOE was given greater authority with its functions and manpower increased. May. 1994 Water Supply and Sewage Treatment Bureau of the Ministry of Construction, Potable Water Management Division of the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, and Water Quality Inspection Department of the National Health Institute transferred to the MOE.
Regional Environmental Management Offices re-organized as four offices, each responsible for one of the four major rivers, and three Regional Environmental Management Offices.
Oct. 1995 The Environmental Investigation Division of the Water Quality Management Bureau and the Incheon Regional Environmental Management Office established. Aug. 1996 Marine Environment Division transferred to newly established Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries. Feb. 1998 Natural Parks Division of the Ministry of Domestic Affairs transferred to the MOE. May. 1999 The Office of Forestry transferred the operation on protecting wild birds and hunting regulation toNational Institute of Environmental Research. Oct. 2000 Established National Environmental Conservation to strengthen the efficiency of promoting environmentally friendly National development policy and to protect environmental damages. Aug. 2002 Established Total Air Pollution Load Management System. Mar. 2004 Established Total Air Pollution Load Management System. Jan. 2005 Established Total Water Pollution Load Management System and Metropolitan Air Quality Management Office. Feb. 2005 Modified its name, Waste Management & Recycling Bureau to Resource Recirculation Bureau. Apr. 2005 Unified Innovation & Personnel and Environmental Data & Information to Planning & Management Office for more enhanced policy management functional system. Feb. 2006 In accordance with the amendment of Toxic Chemicals Control Act, tasks to handle new chemicals and manage restricted and prohibited substances added. Environmental Assessment Policy Division and Emergency Planning Office established. Separated Department of Environmental Training under National Institute of Environmental Research and established National Institute of Environmental Human Resources Development. Feb. 2007 Established National Institute of Biological Resources. Feb. 2008 Korea Meteorological Administration became an affiliate of the Ministry.
The concept of (History) “Green Growth” was first adopted at the “Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development” jointly hosted by Ministry of Environment and UNESCAP in 2005. It was initiated by Korea, the host country, and included in the outcome of the Conference, “Seoul Initiative Network on Green Growth” Green Growth is developed to introduce sustainable economic growth model for the future based on Korea’s experience in implementing environmental protection with economic growth. Green Growth is a concept developed to complement the existing concept of sustainable development (integration of economic, social development and environmental conservation) since the sustainable development is too abstract and broad. Green Growth pursues to shift the pattern of economic growth into an environment friendly one.
- The project to develop the concept of Green Growth was participated by many research institutes including Korea Environment Institute, Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade, Korea Institute of Public Finance, and scholars from economics and environment circle.
Concept Environmentally Sustainable Economic Growth Green Growth is made possible when we interlink 'Environmental Performance' and 'Environmental Sustainability'. Policy measures to pursue green growth are eco-tax reform, and disclosure of company's environmental information.
Concept of Green Growth
- Overview Green Growth is the concept that embodies the harmony of environment (Green) and economy (Growth). It two Green Growth has two implication in term of the relation ship of economy and environment. Green growth 1(Economy→Environment) means that economic growth does not harm but improve the environment.
- Green Growth 2(Environment → Economy) means that environment conservation can be the new growth drivers of economy.
- Green Growth 1 Economic Growth that does not degrade environment
- Existing growth model naturally accompanied the coupling of economic growth and environmental degradation.
- As the economy grows, use of natural resources increases and emission of pollutants.
- Green Growth pursues the decoupling of economic growth with environmental degradation based on eco-efficiency that maximizes efficiency of natural resource uses while minimizing environmental pollution.
- Decoupling of economic growth with environmental degradation is the policy goal which has been emphasized by OECD since 1990s to harmonize environment and economy.
- One should not simply accept Environmental Kuznets’s curve when considering the relationship between economic growth and environmental pollution.
- Environmental pollution does not automatically decreased as economy grows, but it can be made possible with the government’s political will and efforts to meet the demand of its citizens.
- Without the government’s political efforts, GHG emission increases as the economy grows. In addition, it is impossible to explain rapid increase of environmental diseases, such as atopic dermatitis, with Kuznets’s curve.
- Green Growth 2 Economic growth that utilizes environment as a new growth engine
- Green Growth utilizes green technologies and green industries, enhancing environment friendliness of economic activities, as the new motive for economic growth.
- Green technologies will be adopted as the new growth engine since they enhance eco-efficiency in manufacturing of products, and reduce energy consumption and minimize pollutants and wastes in consumption of products.
- Green Growth1 is the precondition for Green Growth 2
- Green technology and industries can work as the new growth engine only when low carbon green growth is diffused to entire society.
- Moreover, the economic growth cycle can be transformed into a virtuous circle of 『(Green Growth 1) → (Green Growth 2) → (Green Growth 1‘) → (Green Growth 2’) → ……』.
Air+Air Pollutant Emissions Trading System+Certification of Exhaust Reduction Equipment+Foul Odor Prevention+Promotion of Natural Gas Vehicles+Air Pollution Monitoring+Clean SYS+In-use Diesel Vehicle Emissions Control+Special Measures for Air Quality Improvement in the Seoul Metropolitan Area+Atmospheric Environmental Standard+Dust and sandstorms+Indoor Air Quality+Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) Reduction
Water+Drinking Water Quality Standard and Test+Ecological Stream Restoration Projects+Environmental Management of Military Facilities+Environmental Water Quality Standards+Individual Sewerage+Non-point Source Pollution Management+Operation of Water Quality Monitoring Network+Public Sewerage+Total Water Pollution Load Management System+Underground Water Management+Water Environment Management Master Plan+Water Use Charge+Whole Effluent Toxicity Management System+Soil Environment Management
Soil pollution is different from other environmental pollutions in that it is almost impossible to detect soil contamination by the eye, such pollution cannot be recognized until it has progressed to a certain level, and there is a long time delay between the pollution activity and the onset of damage. In addition, the effect of soil pollution is very long-lasting. Once soil is polluted, it is hard to remove the pollution as it takes a great deal of time and expense. Therefore, it is highly recommended that pollution source management be reinforced for the sake of human health by systematically controlling soil pollution and pursuing soil environment conservation policies such as a survey on and purification of areas susceptible to pollution and the promotion of the soil environmental industry.
Soil Creation Soil goes through 3 phases: solid, liquid and gas. The solid phase consists of inorganic material from stone weathering, dead bodies of animals and plants, and organic materials of living organisms. The liquid phase refers to soil water. The gas phase refers to soil air. Though soil comes from stone weathering, it takes various forms such as clay, silt, sand, and gravel, depending on the mineral compositions of rocks and metamorphic processes.
Soil Functions Soil performs numerous environmental functions, including flood prevention, water containment, water purification, landslide prevention, erosion prevention, pollutant filtering, regulation of surface temperature and humidity, and protection of living organisms and vegetation.
Soil Pollution Materials and Soil Pollution Standards 17 materials are designated as soil pollutants in Korea according to the Soil Environment Conservation Act, including cadmium, copper, arsenic, mercury, oil, and organic solvents. Each material is subject to 2 standards: one is a standard for possible soil pollution that represents a pollution level that could negatively affect people’s health and property and the growth of animals and plants; the other is for soil pollution countermeasures under which countermeasures should be taken against soil pollution whose level exceeds the possible soil pollution standard and which actually does harm to people’s health and property and the growth of animals and plants. Soil pollution standards classify soil by its various uses in accordance with the Cadastral Act. That is, farms and woodlands that are less likely to be polluted are classified as ‘Ga’ areas; factory sites, roads and railway sites that are more likely to be polluted are classified as ‘Na’ areas.
Domestic Soil Environment Management Policy Soil is mainly polluted by human activities, production activities in agriculture and manufacturing, the overuse of pesticides and fertilizers, mineral discharge from mining activities, heavy metals and noxious chemicals from industrial activities, waste reclamation, and the diffusion and falling of pollutants from the air. The efforts made by the government to manage soil and protect it from such pollution sources are as follows:
+Riparian Buffer Zone Designation System
- To utilize soil pollution status and trends as basic data for establishing policies, the levels of pollution in the entire country have been continuously monitored. Currently, soil pollution surveys are done in two different ways: one is through networks that are operated by the Minister of Environment; the other is through soil pollution status surveys that are performed on behalf of mayors and provincial officers (the heads of Gun and the heads of Gu).
- Targets for special soil pollution management such as oil manufacturing and storage facilities whose capacity is bigger than 20,000 liters, noxious material manufacturers and storage facilities, and pipeline facilities must be reported to mayors, the head of Gun, and the head of Gu, and checked for soil pollution level inspection and leakage tests for the purpose of reinforcing the soil pollution preventive system.
- 5 major oil refining companies such as SK Co., Ltd., GS caltex Co., Ltd., and Hyundai Oilbank Co., Ltd. which handle more than 90% of the distributed oil in the country and Korea National Oil Corporation which possesses large-scale oil storage facilities have voluntarily signed an agreement to prevent soil pollution and restore degraded soil environment.
- Both general and detailed surveys on the soil pollution status of 936 deserted metal mines across the country have been executed since 1992. Related ministries and offices have carried out soil pollution prevention projects for mines in which contamination had been identified, such as the prevention of damage caused by mine-related pollution and improvement of farmland soil.
- 'Clean Gas Stations'which are equipped with dual-wall tanks, dual pipe lines, tanks and pumps have been designated to prevent soil pollution caused by facility corrosion, oil leakage from superannuated facilities, and overflowing.
This is a system that restricts the construction of restaurants, accommodations, spas, factories, and barns by establishing a certain section of a river as a buffer zone connecting the aquatic ecosystem and the terrestrial ecosystem for the purpose of securing a healthy aquatic ecosystem and clean water, and designating a Riparian Buffer Zone to form a Riparian Buffer Forest after buying lands near the waterside one by one, through agreements with residents.
Designated Riparian Buffer Zones For the Han River watershed, 255㎢ adjacent to Paldonghosu, Namhan River, Bukhan River, and Kyoungan stream was first designated as a Riparian Zone in September 1999. 3 successive changes have reduced its size to 191.3㎢. For the Nakdong River, Geum River, and Yeongsan River watershed, major dams and the land near stream flow and lakes, which were used as water source, were designated as Riparian Buffer Zones in Sep., 2003. For the Nakdong River watershed, 3 changes have been applied, making the designated area 339.9㎢. For the Geum River watershed, 3 changes have been applied, making the designated area 373.2㎢. For Yeongsan River watershed, 4 changes have been applied, making the designated area 295.6㎢.
However, the following areas were excluded from the Riparian Buffer Zones: Water source protection areas, development restriction areas, and military facility protection areas, which were already subject to other regulations; sewage disposal areas, anticipated sewage disposal areas, and city areas and settlement areas designated by the Utilization Management of the Land Act that had an existing environmental infrastructure; and natural villages above level 5 for Nakdong River and above level 10 for Geum River and Yeongsan River. For areas designated as Riparian Buffer Zones, new construction of pollution sources such as restaurants, accommodations, spas, apartment housing, factories and barns are prohibited. By 3 years after an area’s designation as a Riparian Buffer Zone, the existing pollution sources must discharge sewage only after it has been processed to BOD and SS levels below 10ppm.+Toxic Pollutants Effluent Standard
To maintain public water quality at a level that is safe for human and animal health and for the growth of plants, pollution materials subject to management are designated according to the Act on Water Quality and Ecosystem Conservation. Currently, 40 kinds of organic materials, including copper, lead, nickel, and cyanogens, are designated as water pollutants. To manage water quality safety, heavy metals and phenols are designated as specific water pollution material.
An emission standard is one of the regulatory methods to achieve environmental standards, and restricts the concentration of discharge water from a discharging business. The standard is set with consideration given to environmental standards and purification capacity of a stream. The Act on Water Quality and Ecosystem Conservation applies wastewater emission standards to 29 items (e.g., organic materials, suspended solids, and phenols), and classifies the water quality of each watershed into 4 levels (Clean, Ga, Na, Special) for each region.
Organic material and suspended solids are handled differently according to the amount of wastewater discharged from a business. That is, considering the effect that it has on the stream, stricter emission standards are applied to a business that discharges wastewater in the amount of more than 2,000㎥/day than to smaller businesses, in order to incorporate a quantity regulation method as well as a concentration regulation method. Taking the capacity of wastewater processing facilities into account, special emission standards are applied to businesses whose wastewater flows into wastewater processing facilities in industrial complexes or agricultural/industrial complexes, within the range of possible operations.
Since 1997, emission standards regarding nitrogen and phosphorus materials have been applied to all businesses located at Paldang Lake, Daecheong Lake, Nakdong River and Nakdong Estuary watershed to prevent the eutrophication of lakes and marshes. All businesses in Korea have been subject to the same standards since 2003.
As the type and the amount of chemicals discharged from industries into the watershed have increased with the growth of chemical industry and the increase in international trade, pilot studies on the ecotoxicity of discharged water for fish (minnow), daphnia magna, and birds have taken place since 2002, to examine the toxicity effects of unknown harmful materials outside of emission standards items. The Act on Water Quality and Ecosystem Conservation was amended in November 2007 to adopt an integrated toxicity management system based on the result of this research. The amended act will be enacted in 2011.+Telemetry Monitoring System (TMS)
Tele-Monitoring System (TMS) refers to a system that monitors the emission state of pollution materials on a 24-hour basis by creating an online connection between automatic measurement devices, which are attached to the discharging outlet of wastewater processing facilities and wastewater-producing businesses, and a remote water quality control center.
Operation Objective The objective is to prevent water pollution by managing and monitoring the quality of discharged water, while inducing each business to make efforts for production process improvement by analyzing and managing the water pollution level in different seasons, times and situations. In addition, a reasonable and objective effluent charge is determined in order to improve policy credibility by identifying the exact pollution level for each period of time. Finally, technical support and consultation for the establishment of control methods for the pollutants discharged by a business are provided, through the continuous assessment and analysis of the pollution level by the remote control of water quality.
Targets for TMS and Attachment Period
Business Wastewater Amount or Process Capacity Period Class 1 2,000 m3/day or more 2008.9.30 Class 2 700 m3/day to 1,999 m3/day 2009.9.30 Sewage processing facilityㆍ
Wastewater processing facility
Sewage: More than 100,000 m3/day
Wastewater: Less than 10,000m3/day
2008.5.·19 Sewage: More than 10,000 m3/day / Less than 100,000 m3/day
Wastewater: Process capacity less than 10,000 m3/day (Discharged amount: 700 m3/day or more)
2008.11.19 Sewage: 2,000 m3/day or more / Less than 10,000 m3/day 2009.11.19
Waste+Business Waste Minimization System+Control of Packaging Waste+Control on Waste Import and Export+Designated (Hazardous) Waste Management+EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility)+Empty Container Return Deposit System+Mandatory Use of Electronic Report on Waste Transfer+Medical Waste Management+Recycling of Electrical and Electronic Equipment and Vehicles+Restriction on the Use of Disposable Products+Volume Based Waste Fee System+Waste to Energy Policy+Food Waste Reduction
Food waste is generated from food products that are thrown away due to degradation in their quality, damage, rot or the passing of its expiration date, or a part of a cooked meal that is not eaten and thus is thrown away. Each local government has established different standards for the separation and discharge of food waste according to the status of disposal facilities in its region, such as whether it is possible to reutilize food waste as a resource.
Momentum for the Implementation of Food Waste Reduction As food waste, which belongs to household wastes, causes secondary environmental pollution such as the odor or sewage produced from landfill sites, the government established in July 1995 the ‘Committee for the Management of Food Waste’ which involves 8 central agencies, and this committee worked together to prepare measures for the handling of food waste. In 2002, with the Korea-Japan FIFA World Cup providing momentum for the establishment of an eco-friendly food consumption culture, the government pushed local governments, restaurant organizations, and civil organizations to establish a voluntary agreement for the reduction of food waste, and implemented it with a focus on the cities in which the football games of the World Cup were to be held. This voluntary agreement has been applied to the entire country since 2003.
The government has been working with civil organizations since 2002 to develop an educational program that can help to foster a culture that encourages the reduction of food waste. Major projects included holding “The day of no food waste” every Wednesday, “Designating Eco-Friendly Restaurant” and launching a “Plates with No Food Left” campaign. Advertisements for food waste reduction have been broadcast on TV, radio, and electric billboards, and a cartoon was produced and distributed to elementary schools across the country to familiarize children with the concept of food waste reduction. It is considered that these activities have helped to inspire a culture of food waste reduction among the people of Korea.
Results of Public Awareness Campaign for Food Waste Reduction
As a result of the public awareness campaign for food waste reduction, the amount of daily food waste in 2006 was at 13,372 tons and accounted for 27.4% of the total amount of daily households waste (48,844 tons), which is still a relatively high percentage yet shows a downward trend compared with 29.1% in 1996.
However, as food waste that was discharged separately from other wastes increased following the prohibition of direct food waste landfill (January 1, 2005), and the consumption of fruits and vegetables increased due to the trend of healthy lifestyle, it turned out that the amount of food waste produced in 2006 increased significantly.
Therefore, the government began to provide funds (30% of the total funds required) to establish public disposal facilities that transform food waste into feed for poultry, compost and bio-mass, and has been promoting the cooperation and participation of citizens to establish a culture of resource recycling in Korean society.+Waste Charge System
The waste charge system is a system that charges the manufacturer of the product part of the cost involved in disposing of a product that contains hazardous materials or that is not easy to recycle and may cause problems in waste management, in order to restrict waste generation and prevent the wasteful use of resources.
Purpose of Waste Charge System The waste charge system is intended to reduce the production of waste from the manufacturing stage and promote the efficient disposal of waste in consideration of the environmental impacts of a product.
Items to which Waste Charges are Applied The items on which waste charges are imposed include insecticides, containers of toxic chemicals, antifreeze, chewing gum, disposable diapers, cigarettes, and plastic products
Use of Waste Charges Waste charges are used for the research and development of technology to reduce the weight of waste and recycle waste, the installation of waste disposal facilities, financing for waste recycling projects, financial support for local governments to collect and recycle waste, and the purchase and storage of recyclable resources.
Nature+Eco-Village+Ecosystem and Landscape Conservation Areas+Endangered Species Protection+Environmental Impact Assessment System+LMOs (Living Modified Organisms)+National Long-Term Ecological Research Project+National Trust System for the Natural Environment+Nature Park+Prior Environmental Review System+Wetland Protection Areas+Wildlife Protection and Management
Human Health & Chemicals+Asbestos+Chemical Terrorism and Accidents+Dioxin+Endocrine Disruptors+Hazardous Chemicals Control+Health Impact Assessment System+Nano Materials+POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants)+Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)+Response to REACH+Restricted or Prohibited Chemicals Designation System+Risk Assessment+Toxics Release Inventory(TRI)
Green Living+Eco-labeling system+Environmental Education+Environmental Industry+Environmental Technology+Environmental-Friendly Products+Environmentally - Friendly Company Designation System
International Cooperatioin+CBD(Convention on Biological Diversity)+Cooperation with America+Cooperation with OECD+Cooperation with UNEP+Korea-China-Japan Cooperation+Cooperation with Africa+Cooperation with ESCAP+Cooperation with Southeast Asia+FTA-related Environmental Agreement+Ramsar Convention+Cooperation with Europe+Cooperation with UNCSD+International Climate Change Negotiations+CITES
Climate Change+CDM Projects+Greenhouse Gas Labeling System+Smart ways to reduce CO2+Support for Local Governments In Responding to Climate Change
Ministry of Environment has made significant success in improving water and air qualities and conserving ecosystems by introducing various environmental regulations. However, in order to overcome recent economic downturn and strengthen national competitiveness, it is necessary to conduct regulatory reforms without undermining environmental quality to create better business environment, reduce public inconvenience and raise the effectiveness of regulations.
To this end, Ministry of Environment will consider the life cycle and characteristics of companies in carrying out regulatory reforms, and ensure that such reforms contribute to improvements in the daily lives of the general public. Meanwhile, it will make efforts to improve the effectiveness of regulations through further clarification of environmental regulations and better enforcement.
Moreover, a more prudent approach is needed for environmental regulations as environmental issues often involve the conflicts of interests and lack of scientific evidence. Therefore, the ministry plans to prevent social conflicts and environmental degradation by promoting communication among various stakeholders and securing environmental expertise.+ Improvement of environmental impact assessment (EIA) and PERS[disambiguation needed ] : simplifying procedure and constructing support system
The Korean government introduced systems to examine the environmental impacts of land development projects such as EIA and PERS. The government has come up with measures to improve the systems to shorten time and avoid overlaping each other.
+ Less Strict Regulations on the Seoul Metropolitan Area : the increase in areas allowed for land development within regions subject to Total Maximum Daily Load
- First, under the EIA, all projects were subject to all test items (a total of 20) in the past, but now the government has adopted two streamlined processes according to the characteristics of a specific project. One is "Scoping Process" under which an examination is conducted on necessary test items only depending on the type of a project. The other is "Simplified Assessment" which streamlines requirements on getting the consent from local communities and consultation on documents of assessment when a project concerned has less environmental impacts. "Scoping Process" and "Simplified Assessment" have been in effect since January 2009.
- Second, small factories (less than 5,000?? in "Planned Areas" are now exempted from PERS which was applied to all factories in the areas.
- Third, as Korea has advanced IT infrastructure, the government established "Environmental Impact Assessment Support System(eiass.go.kr)" to provide all information needed to draw up assessment documents. The EIASS provides various data for free, including measurements of environmental quality, ecosystem maps, historic sites, information on forests, geographical data, cadastral maps, and meteorological information.
- Last, to fundamentally solve problems with EIA and PERS, the government is working to unify the legal grounds of EIA and PERS into a single law. "The Act on EIA and Other Environmental Assessment Systems" is in the making with a focus on the target and process of consultation and ways of assessment. When the act comes into force in 2010, the period of assessment will be shortened by 30-40% (about 5–6 months), and the cost for drawing up assessment documents will be cut by 30%.
Environmental protection areas in and around the capital city of Seoul (including 8 local governments in Gyeonggi Province)were banned from large-scale development projects as those areas are mostly located near the upstream of the Paldang Dam which supplies drinking water to about 23 million people in Seoul, the city of Incheon and Gyeonggi Province. However, progress has been slow in enhancing the water quality of the Paldang Dam due to small development projects that are not subject to the above-mentioned regulation. Therefore, the government changed the direction of water quality policy from regulations on the size of developed areas to the amount of water pollutants. In January 2009, the government allowed areas with the TMDL system to carry out development projects regardless of the scale of the projects if they meet the TMDL standard. The environmental protection areas in the Seoul metropolitan area are famous for beautiful landscape and close to large cities. Therefore, with the eased regulations on those areas, investment is expected to increase in creating large tourist areas and constructing distribution complexes.+ Factories that Do Not Discharge Industrial Waste Water Are Allowed to be Built near the Upstream Areas of Water source
Under the past regulation, building factories was banned within a certain distance from the upstream areas of water source. As a result, wide areas near upstream of water source (at maximum of 20 km from the point of collecting water) were strictly controlled. But some expressed concerns that the regulation is too heavy for plants discharging only pollutants similar to sewage from households. To solve that problem, the government revised relevant laws in December 2008. It eased the regulation on factories that meet certain standards such as not discharging industrial waste waster and treating all emitted sewage through public sewerage system. So the limit on distance was reduced to 7 km upstream from water collection sites.+ Less Burden on Businesses through Advanced Management of Air Pollutants
To control air pollutants emitted by plants more effectively, Ministry of Environment introduced Telemetry Monitoring System (TMS) on the smokestacks of plants in 1997, and Total Air Pollution Load Management System in 2007. TMS and Total Air Pollution Load Management System have been recognized as advanced systems in that TMS enables real-time monitoring of the concentrations of air pollutants and Total Air Pollution Load Management System encourages effective management of air pollution in places of business through quota system. However, the two systems put economic burdens on companies such as costs for installing measuring equipment. Therefore, the government has come up with measures to reduce such burdens without undermining the effectiveness of the systems.
- First of all, improvements made on Total Air Pollution Load Management System include:
- First, the allocation of the quota on dust will be suspended until 2010 as it is difficult to set the quota because dust varies in types and characteristics.
- Second, currently the government is going to exclude Type 3 plants(mid-sized plants) from the system by revising relevant laws as those plants emit just little amount of air pollutants.
- Next, some changes were made on TMS System as follows:
+ Improved Regulations on Building Condominiums and Cable Cars in Natural Parks
- First, Installing and managing TMS device costs a lot for companies. So the government has decided not to impose Basic Emission Charge which is determined according to the amount of air pollutants emitted.
- Second, if companies exceed their quota inevitably for a short period of time due to problems with their production system, they are exempted from administrative penalties.
- Last, the government will provide financial support to small- and medium-sized companies from 2009 for installing and managing TMS devices.
Heavy restrictions have been put on land development in ecosystem protection areas and historic sites designated as natural parks for public interests and their sustainable use. However, building tourist facilities such as accommodations was also limited, causing inconveniences to local residents and visitors. Constructing condominiums in natural parks has been restricted since the early 1990 because such buildings could lead to a sense of inequality among different social classes. But recent surveys on local residents near natural parks and the general public showed that the majority of respondents were in favor of building condominiums in natural parks. And the demand for tourism has been increasing since the introduction of a 5-day workweek system. For those reasons, the government decided to lift restrictions on building condominiums in natural parks. Also, the government has eased regulations on establishing cable cars in natural parks. In the latter half of 2009, limits on distance will be lowered from 2 km to 5 km, which will lead to more cable cars in natural parks. Such deregulation will enable more convenient trip for visitors and attract investment from the private sector for local development.+Streamlined Procedure for Toxicity Examination of New Chemicals
In Korea, manufacturers or importers of new chemicals are required to get toxicity examination on the chemicals such as submitting a document on toxicity issued by certified laboratories. But the problem was that certified laboratories are limited to domestic organizations only, so companies that have examination documents issued by overseas laboratories cannot use their documents. To resolve that issue, the government revised related laws in June 2008 so that certified laboratories include laboratories in OECD countries. That has reduced costs and time for drawing up examination documents, and laid the foundation for improved management of harmful chemicals through mutual recognition of test data with OECD countries. In addition, if companies produce or import a small amount of new chemicals, or new chemicals are embedded in machines or equipment so it is not necessary to conduct a toxicity examination, those companies or chemicals are given exemption from toxicity examinations, which reduces the time it takes to produce or import such chemicals.
Ministers of the EnvironmentMinister, Ministry of Environment
Title Minister Incumbency Under Administrator of the environmental protection agency Bark Seung-Gyu 1980-01-01/1980-07-02 Bark Jun-Ik 1980-07-19/1983-07-09 Choe Suh-Il 1983-07-09/1986-05-24 Bark Pan-Jae 1986-05-24/1988-05-20 Lee Sang-Bae 1988-05-20/1989-07-21 Lee Jae-Chang 1989-07-21/1990-01-03 Minister of the environment Jo Gyeong-Sik 1990-01-03/1990-09-19 Heo Nam-Hoon 1990-09-19/1991-04-26 Gwon Lee-Hyuk 1991-04-26/1992-06-26 Lee Jae-Chang 1992-06-26/1993-12-22 Hwang San-Seong 1993-12-22/1994-12-21 Kim Jung-Wi 1994-12-21/1995-12-21 Jeong Jong-Taek 1995-12-21/1996-12-20 Kang Hyeon-Uk 1996-12-20/1997-08-06 Yun Yeo-Jun 1997-08-06/1998-03-03 Choe Jae-Uk 1998-03-03/1999-05-24 Son Sook 1999-05-24/1999-06-25 Kim Myung-Ja 1999-06-27/2003-02-27 Han Myung-Sook 2003-02-27/2004-02-16 Kwak Kyul-Ho 2004-02-18/2005-06-28 Lee Jae-Yong 2005-06-29/2006-03-21 Lee Chi-Beom 2006-04-07/2007-09-04 Lee Kyoo-Yong 2006-09-21/2008-02-29 Lee Maan-Ee 2008-02-29~present
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