An extract from The Environment and Climate Change Law Review, 4th Edition

Environmental protection

i Air quality

The Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development adopted the Resolution 2254 of 2017, in response to the proposed guidelines for air quality made by the WHO in 2017, which established that by 2030 it will have an average of 30 µg/m3 of pm10 for one year and 15µg/m3 of pm 2.5 as a standard of air quality objective III of the WHO Air Quality Directives. As of 1 July 2018, concentrations of PM10 and PM2.5 for 24-hour were 75µg/m3 and 37µg/m3.

Concerning the national policies, the guidelines on air pollution prevention and control policy 62, adopted in 2005, have been developed following CONPES Document 3344.

ii Water quality

For any project or operation that implies the use of, or the impact of the water controlled in Decree 1076 of 2015, different types of permit can be issued. These include water concessions and permits to discharge wastewater, among others. Concessions grant the right to use water whereas discharge permits grant the right to dispose of water from rivers and spring wells for up to five years. Besides, the building and operation of hydraulic work for protecting and conserving lands or riverbeds, riverbanks, streams and other water bodies are subject to special permits for the use of a riverbed.

iii Chemicals

The Colombian legal system contains several regulatory provisions that lay down obligations, liabilities, responsibilities and, in general, a range of conditions for this form of substance to be used, treated and disposed of. These administrative laws are distributed in terms of different specialties and hierarchies. Rules on this subject can thus be included in the Colombian Constitution of 1991, the rules, regulations, and other administrative acts issued by administrative authorities, which deal with chemical substances in their sphere of competence, regardless of their speciality.

Nevertheless, the main purpose of Colombian legislation is to protect rights that can be legally violated by improper handling of chemical substances, thus increasing the risk factors associated with their use, handling and disposal. Among the most important regulations at the national level, we find the Constitution, Law 23 of 1973, Decree 2811 of 1974, Law 9 of 1979, Law 99 of 1993, Law 100 of 1993, Law 101 of 1993 and Law 170 of 1994.

iv Solid and hazardous waste

The laws on residues or waste and hazardous waste management and final disposal of residues or waste in Colombia were defined by Law 430 of 1998, Decree 1079 of 215, Decree 1076 of 2015 (Articles 2.2.6.1.1 to 2.2.6.2.3.6), Resolution 1362 of 2007 and Resolution 372 of 2009. It is also important to mention that the Basel Convention relating to hazardous wastes was also adopted by Colombia and is governed by these laws, decrees and resolutions.

The development of the comprehensive management of residues or wastes and hazardous wastes is contained within Decree 1076 of 2015 (Articles 2.2.6.1.1 to 2.2.6.2.3.6), aimed at preventing waste and hazardous wastes and at controlling the management and protection of the environment and human health.

Following the above, all generators of residues, waste and hazardous waste shall, according to Resolution 1362 of 2007 and Decree 1076 of 2015 (Articles 2.2.1.1 to 2.2.6.2.3.6), be required to register in the Environmental Authority Generators Registry.

Water regulations also introduced the Management Plan for the Devolution of Used Products (Reverse Logistics Plans), consisting of a management tool that includes a set of rules, acts, procedures and ways of promoting the disposing and recycling of residues and forms part of this essential enforcement process.

Said plans are governed by Resolutions 371 of 2009 (expired drugs), Resolutions 372 of 2009 (lead-acid batteries), 2010 (Resolutions 1512 and 2010) and 2011 (computers) among others. Congress issued Law 1672 of 2013, requiring a collection system for all electronic and electric waste.

v Contaminated land

The liability approach for soil and groundwater pollution is carried out from an administrative, civil, and criminal perspective. Even though Colombia has these regulations there is no liability regime for contaminated land. Consequently, general provisions on the management of environmental damages are consistently applied by the environmental authorities to request remediation on behalf of environmental offenders, and to punish said conducts under current procedural administrative, tort and criminal liability, as applicable.