The Korea Herald


Seoul to simplify pollution controls

By 이현정

Published : Dec. 22, 2015 - 18:16

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The central government will simplify the system for controlling pollution-generating facilities starting from 2017 as part of its efforts to reduce unnecessary procedural issues and lessen the burdens of businesses, officials said Tuesday.

For this, the Environment Ministry said it would integrate polution permit systems. Currently, up to 10 types of separate permissions are required to run one pollution-generating facility. The permissions range from air pollution to water quality.

The new system will allow companies to submit only one online document for facility approval.

“Simplifying the permission system while meticulously running it is the goal of the new rule. (The ministry) will put efforts into helping the environment and economy to coexist by ensuring the environment quality while reducing the businesses’ burden,” said Environment Minister Yoon Sung-kyu.

The new move came after industry complaints grew over the complicated approval system that requires several permissions, with up to 73 kinds of paper documents. Organizations that screen the requests also differed depending on types of permission, ranging from the ministry to local-level offices, adding to the industry’s burden.

Introduced in 1971, the regulation has been imposed on businesses based on a uniform standard that focuses on limiting the pollution concentration from waste water outlets or factory chimneys, overlooking businesses’ individual characteristics.

This has sometimes left loopholes as it allowed some regions to be “legally” over-contaminated as only the pollution concentration levels of water outlets and chimneys were considered. Some areas with few pollution sources, on the other hand, have been overregulated.

Considering the technological development and industry transformation, the industry has also voiced the need to adopt more realistic standards.

The new rule, enacted Tuesday, will be gradually applied to all pollution facilities from 2017 to 2021. Existing facilities will have to receive the new integrated permit within the next four years.

The facilities will be subject to permission reviews every five to eight years, the ministry said.

The new scheme is expected to save about 9 billion won ($7.7 million) a year, officials said.

Foreign countries have run similar schemes since the 1980s to maximize the effectiveness of the pollution facility control. Germany and the U.K. introduced it in 1980s and the European Union adopted it from the 1990s.

The EU countries saved about 200 million euros a year, the EU committee said.

In 2006, the OECD recommended for Korea to introduce the integrated pollution control system to raise efficacy.

By Lee Hyun-jeong (