China’s long awaited Soil Pollution Prevention Law comes into force on 1 January 2019 with significant implications for industrial and manufacturing sites.

China’s Soil Pollution Prevention Law was finally passed by the National People’s Congress in 31 August 2018 and will come into force on 1 January 2019. The Government has been flagging the need for such a law for well over a decade and draft versions were issued for public comment no fewer than three times over the last five years.

The Law clearly defines the circumstances under which industrial facilities will be required to undertake soil and groundwater investigations and remediate contaminated sites. It will also see the creation of a national database of contaminated sites, maintained by government and accessible to all.

Soil Pollution Prevention Law - 15 Years in the Making
The Soil Pollution Prevention Law represents a logical next step in a long list of regulations and government notices concerning soil and groundwater contamination introduced over the last 15 years (Fig. 1).


Figure 1: Timeline of soil and groundwater notices and regulations issued by the Chinese government since 2004

Following the Soil Pollution Prevention Law, it is widely anticipated that regulators will now focus on the development of new groundwater related regulations and standards.

Implications for Industrial and Manufacturing Sites
In combination with other recent regulatory changes, the Soil Pollution Prevention Law will have a significant impact on China’s industrial and manufacturing facilities by clarifying liability for soil contamination upon rezoning or change in ownership and detailing requirements for soil investigation and remediation. Industrial facilities that fall into one of the following categories are at greatest risk.

Read ERM's full update for more information on the implementation of China's Soil Pollution Prevention Law, including the industrial facilities at greatest risk, recommended next steps for facilities occupying contaminated sites and how ERM can help.