April 16, 2014

Chile Highlights (Volume I 2013)

Latin American Region Environmental Report, Volume I, 2013

Ministry of the Environment Issues Guidelines Regarding Processing of Self-Reported Violations and Enforcement of Compliance Programs

Chile’s Ministry of the Environment (Ministerio del Medio Ambiente) has promulgated guidelines (the "Enforcement Guidelines") in approving environmental compliance plans and handling self-reported environmental violations.  Pursuant to the Enforcement Guidelines, successful compliance plans must contain at least the following elements: (1) description of acts or omissions that led to violation; (2) action plan and goals to be implemented in order to achieve regulatory compliance; (3) follow-up plan and process for reporting on implementation of action plan, and (4) information regarding costs and technical requirements of compliance plan. (Enforcement Guidelines, Art. 7.) The Enforcement Guidelines state that compliance plans should only be approved by the Enforcement Branch if they are (1) comprehensive (i.e., address all infractions); (2) effective at mitigating damages; and (3) lead to verifiable results. (Enforcement Guidelines, Art. 8.)

The Enforcement Guidelines also provide for a reduction in fines issued for violations that have been self-reported. (Enforcement Guidelines, Art. 9.) The self-reporting fine reduction is available only to violators who provide precise and verifiable information regarding the violation and adopt all measures necessary to cease its harmful effects. (Enforcement Guidelines, Arts. 9, 11.) First-time self-reported violations may have fines eliminated, while second and third self-reports may result in fine reductions of 75% and 50%, respectively. (Enforcement Guidelines, Art. 9.) A violator may only avail itself of the benefits of self-reporting if it self-reports before the Enforcement Branch initiated an investigation of the facts of the violation at any of the violator’s facilities. (Enforcement Guidelines, Art. 10.)

Chile Issues Standards for Characterization, Measurement and Control of Liquid Industrial Waste

On February 6, 2013, Chile’s Ministry of the Environment (Ministerio del Medio Ambiente) promulgated standards for the characterization, measurement and control of liquid industrial waste discharged to the sea, surface waters and groundwater (Normas de Carácter General Sobre Procedimiento de Caracterización, Medición y Control de Residuos Industriales Líquidos, the "Liquid Waste Standards"). (Liquid Waste Standards, Art. 1.) The Liquid Waste Standards are primarily process-focused, setting forth procedures relating to the self-monitoring, sampling and reporting of waste discharges. (Liquid Waste Standards, Arts. 2, 3.)

Pursuant to the Liquid Waste Standards, entities classified by the Ministry of the Environment as liquid industrial waste dischargers ("Dischargers") must apply to the Ministry of Environment for a monitoring plan ninety days before engaging in any discharges. (Liquid Waste Standards, Art. 3.) Once the Ministry of the Environment has established a monitoring plan for a Discharger, all of its discharges must be monitored in strict accord with the standards set forth in the monitoring plan. (Liquid Waste Standards, Art. 4.)Dischargers must then submit monthly monitoring reports to the Ministry of the Environment in addition to notifying the Ministry of the Environment of any process changes or eventuality that might affect discharges in quantity or composition. (Liquid Waste Standards, Arts. 4, 7.) Dischargers’ failure to monitor and report its discharges as required by the Liquid Waste Standards will result in sanctions or fines. (Liquid Waste Standards, Art. 9.)

© 2014 Beveridge & Diamond PC

About the Author

Daniel P. Berner, Environmental Law Attorney, Beveridge Diamond Law Firm

Daniel Berner is an Associate in the Austin office of Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., with a practice focused on environmental law and complex commercial litigation. Mr. Berner is also a member of the Firm’s Latin America practice group, through which he advises clients on environmental legal issues in the region.


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