LegislationMain environmental regulations
What are the main statutes and regulations relating to the environment?
The bedrock of environmental protection in Taiwan is the Basic Environment Act (BEA). Specifically, article 3 of the BEA provides that environmental protection must be taken into account in the economic, technological and social development so as to safeguard the long-term national interests; and where economic, technological or social development has a seriously negative impact on the environment or would likely endanger the environment, the protection of the environment must prevail.Integrated pollution prevention and control
Is there a system of integrated control of pollution?
Under Taiwan law, each type of pollution is regulated by a different set of regulations.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established an online platform Pollutant Release and Transfer Register Online System pursuant to the Freedom of Government Information Act. This platform contains the registration submitted by enterprises regarding air pollution, water pollution, waste, and toxic and concerned chemical substances used or generated during the course of their business activities. Relevant records of punishment or administrative fines imposed against non-compliance are also available on this platform.Soil pollution
What are the main characteristics of the rules applicable to soil pollution?
Soil pollution (together with associated groundwater pollution) is governed by the Soil and Groundwater Pollution Remediation Act (SGPRA). Under SGPRA, an event of soil pollution broadly covers the change of soil quality due to the intervention of a substance, organism or energy, which may affect the soil’s normal use or endanger the health and living environment of the people.
A soil pollution offender, including the person causing soil pollution or accumulating pollutants to cause soil pollution, should be liable to the interested party of the polluted land, land user, manager or landowner for the damages arising from the soil pollution. Further, a soil pollution offender should be responsible for carrying out necessary measures to remedy the soil pollution, such as cleaning up the pollutant, suspension of business and providing alternative clean water. In the event that the soil pollution offender is a corporate organisation, the controlling shareholder or the responsible person in the offending company may be subject to certain liabilities under the SGPRA.
Certain liabilities may be attached to owners, administrators or users of the polluted land even though they are not the actual offender and even if the contamination takes place before their purchase or use of the land. Therefore, any successor owners or operators of a piece of polluted land would be obligated to prevent deterioration of the contamination, comply with restrictive measures imposed by the competent authorities, and may need to bear the relevant control or remediation costs if they breached the duty of care as required under the SGPRA. The owners, administrators and users of the polluted land, however, may turn to the actual soil pollution offenders and claim the cost arising from fulfilling the aforesaid obligations.Regulation of waste
What types of waste are regulated and how?
Waste is generally regulated under the Waste Disposal Act (WDA). Under the WDA, waste is divided into two major categories: general waste and industrial waste; and industrial waste is further divided into two sub-categories: general industrial waste and hazardous industrial waste.
The government is responsible for the collection and disposal of general waste, which may be carried out by the government agencies themselves or outsourced to private service providers. However, disposal of industrial waste should be performed by the enterprises. Enterprises are also required to submit an industrial waste clearance plan (specifying the amount of industrial waste generated, disposal methods, etc) to the local government periodically for monitoring and record purposes.
In addition to the WDA, the Resource Recycling Act was enacted to specifically regulate the use of recycled resources and measures in relation to the reduction of waste generation, conservation of natural resources, and recycling and reuse promotion.Regulation of air emissions
What are the main features of the rules governing air emissions?
The main regulation governing air emissions in Taiwan is the Air Pollution Control Act (APCA). Under the APCA, air pollution sources are categorised into two types: stationary pollution sources and mobile pollution sources (basically refers to automobiles). The EPA set emission standards to regulate stationary and mobile pollution sources, which stipulate the maximum emission volume for each type of the relevant air pollutants. The EPA also collects air pollution control fees from both the owners of the stationary pollution sources and sellers and users of the mobile pollution sources.
In respect of the licensing requirements, according to the APCA and the Stationary Pollution Source Installation, Operating and Fuel Use Permit Management Regulations, prior to the establishment and change (eg, factory expansion) of a stationary source, the owner should submit an air pollution control plan and apply for an installation permit. After obtaining the installation permit, the owner should further apply for an operating permit to operate the stationary pollution source. The EPA promulgated detailed requirements for applications for these two permits.
There are other regulations governing energy efficiency and air emissions. For instance, the Fuel Economy Standards and Regulations on Vehicle Inspection and Administration regulates automobile fuel efficiency and tailpipe emissions. The Energy Saving Design Standards for New Buildings sets forth the requirements of energy-saving design of central air conditioning system for new buildings.Protection of fresh water and seawater
How are fresh water and seawater, and their associated land, protected?
Water quality is regulated under the Water Pollution Control Act (WPCA). The competent authorities have promulgated standards for water quality based on different types of water (eg, Drinking Water Quality Standards and Tap Water Quality Standards). Under the WPCA, water pollution broadly includes water quality-related incidents due to the intervention of water by the substances, biological organisms or forms of energy, the water’s quality is altered and therefore affects its normal use or endangers public health and the living environment.
Under WPCA, the competent authorities may collect water pollution control fees from enterprises and sewage systems (exclusive of public sewage systems and community sewage systems) that discharge wastewater or sewage into surface water based on the quality and volume of the discharged water. In addition, for the purpose of water quality control, any enterprise, prior to its establishment, should submit a water pollution control measure plan to the competent authority for review and approval. Those enterprises that discharge wastewater or sewage into surface water will additionally be required to obtain a discharge permit for such discharge.
With regard to seawater protection, the Marine Pollution Control Act (MPCA) governs conduct relating to seawater pollution. The EPA further promulgated the Classification of Marine Environment and Standards for Marine Environment Quality to implement the MPCA.Protection of natural spaces and landscapes
What are the main features of the rules protecting natural spaces and landscapes?
Natural spaces and landscape protections are underpinned by the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act (CHPA), National Parks Act, Forestry Act and the Regulations Governing the Management of Designated Scenic Areas.
According to the CHPA, cultural assets, including natural spaces and landscapes being defined as natural zones, special landscapes, geologic phenomena, plants or minerals, should be protected. The competent authority (ie, the Ministry of Culture) may classify natural landscapes as natural reserves and geo-parks based on the landscape’s features.
Within the protected area prescribed under the regulations above, certain restrictions are imposed on the individual and development activities. If any person violates these restrictions, criminal penalties or administrative fines may be imposed.Protection of flora and fauna species
What are the main features of the rules protecting flora and fauna species?
Currently, there is no specific regulation governing the protection of flora species. However, the Plant Variety and Plant Seed Act was enacted to protect the plant variety right and promote variety improvement.
The Wildlife Conservation Act (WCA) was enacted to ensure wildlife conservation, biodiversity protection and most importantly the balance of ecosystems. Article 8 of the WCA specifically provides that any development, construction or land use activity must not damage the original function of the ecosystem and must be conducted in the way with the least impact on the respective area. Article 8 also provides that prior approval must be obtained to conduct any development activity in an important wildlife habitat delineated by the competent authority.Noise, odours and vibrations
What are the main features of the rules governing noise, odours and vibrations?
The Noise Control Act (NCA) provides for the regime for noise control and regulation. Under the NCA, noise generally refers to sounds exceeding certain standards. The EPA may, authorised by the NCA, designate noise control zones to regulate noise. Within the designated area and regulated time, certain activities (such as the ignition of fireworks) are forbidden and a noise standard would apply.
The NCA also requires that any construction that is prone to making noise must be subject to prior approval before commencement. Failure to obtain prior approval would trigger administrative penalties, such as fines or suspension of construction, or both. The NCA also stipulates several types of measures and restriction in respect of noise made by different types of transportation.
Currently, there is no specific regulation that governs odours and vibration control. Odours may be generally subject to the regulation under the Air and Air Pollution Control Act.Liability for damage to the environment
Is there a general regime on liability for environmental damage?
Under Taiwan law, there is no general regulatory regime dealing with environmental damage. Environmental damage would be subject to sectorial regulations or the general law, such as the Administrative Procedure Act or the Civil Code.Environmental taxes
Is there any type of environmental tax?
Other than the pollution charges imposed by the relevant environmental regulations, which are levied on the basis of the polluter pays principle, currently there is no environmental tax. However, the proposed amendment to the Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Management Act (GGRMA) seeks to impose carbon charges against sources of GHG emissions for direct and indirect emissions.Environmental reporting
Are there any notable environmental reporting requirements (eg, regarding emissions, energy consumption or related environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting obligations)?
Other than the reporting obligations under the relevant environmental regulations mentioned above, GHG emission reporting is of particular importance. Specifically, under the GGRMA, businesses in specific fields are required to conduct accounting, reporting and verification of their GHG emission records. Businesses Subject to Accounting and Registration of Greenhouse Gasses Emission Sources sets forth a list of industry-specific businesses that are major GHG emission sources subject to mandatory accounting and reporting of GHG emissions. In addition, any business whose GHG emission reaches 25,000 tons or more per year would be required to report each year its GHG emission for the previous year.
For listed companies, they are required to issue annual ESG reports based on the guidelines set out in the GRI, SASB and TCFD. Listed companies are also required to include ESG information as part of their disclosure on corporate governance matters in the prospectus following the Regulations Governing Information to be Published in Public Offering and Issuance Prospectuses.Government policy
How would you describe the general government policy for environmental issues? How are environmental policy objectives influencing the legislative agenda?
The government policy for environmental issues is generally supportive and proactive for environmental protection. The government agenda centres around five main pillars: the adoption of climate action, improvement of the quality of the environment, cultivating circular economy, strengthening pollution control to improve the quality of the environment, conservation of nature and promoting environmental education and public participation in endeavours to achieve sustainability. Government objectives have prompted the adoption and amendment of key legislation.
Most notably, the government adopted the Enforcement Rules on the Disposable Tableware Use Restriction and Enforcement Rules on the One-Time Beverage Cup Use Restriction in 2019 and 2022, requiring most food and beverage retailing businesses to reduce the amount of waste and to boost recycling rate, amended the Water Pollution Control Act in 2021 to create a robust regime for water pollution prevention, and amended the Air Pollution Control Act in 2018 to optimise and strengthen control over fuels and hazardous pollutants.
Hazardous activities and substancesRegulation of hazardous activities
Are there specific rules governing hazardous activities?
Hazardous activities are generally governed by the Occupational Safety Health Act (OSHA), which protects workers’ safety at workspace. While no licence is required, all enterprises and factories should comply with the OSHA for their date-to-date operation. The OSHA imposes various obligations upon the employers, including making assessment on occupational hazards and implementation of effective preventive measures based on such assessment.Regulation of hazardous products and substances
What are the main features of the rules governing hazardous products and substances?
The Toxic and Concerned Chemical Substances Control Act (TCCSCA) is the core regulation on the hazardous products. Under the TCCSCA, toxic chemical substances generally refer to those intentionally produced by human activity or unintentionally derived from production processes, which are designated by the central competent authority as toxic chemical substances based on their toxicity characters. The TCCSCA sets forth different levels of regulation on toxic chemical substances depending on the category, the use amount, and the handling method of the toxic chemical substances. In particular, the manufacture, import and sale of toxic chemical substances are subject to prior approval of the local competent authority. Usage and storage of the toxic chemical substances must be registered beforehand at the local authority. Disposal and export must also be registered in advance for every batch and shipment.
The TCCSCA also provides that labelling is required for the containers, packaging, operations and facilities of toxic chemical substances. Warnings should also be clearly shown on the containers, packaging and the operation sites of toxic chemical substances. Further regulatory details are provided in the Regulations Governing the Labelling and Safety Data Sheets of Toxic and Concerned Chemical Substances.Industrial accidents
What are the regulatory requirements regarding the prevention of industrial accidents?
Prevention of industrial accidents may be subject to the occupational accident prevention measures under the OSHA, pollution prevention measures under the Air Pollution Control Act, Water Pollution Control Act, and Soil and Groundwater Pollution Remediation Act, as well as fire and explosion prevention measures under the Fire Services Act. The above laws and their ancillary regulations set forth various requirements that aim to prevent and minimise the risk of industrial accidents to the extent possible.
Environmental aspects in transactions and public procurementEnvironmental aspects in M&A transactions
What are the main environmental aspects to consider in M&A transactions?
The main environmental aspects in M&A transactions vary depending on the type of business the target company is involved in. Nonetheless, the common environmental aspects in M&A transactions would include air, water and soil and groundwater pollution, as well as compliance with the OSHA. For certain types of infrastructure projects, the impact on wildlife and biodiversity conservation is of particular importance.
For asset acquisition transactions, since the environment-related permits and licences are generally not transferrable, whether they could be re-applied for in a timely manner may be the focus of the transaction so as to minimise any risk of business interruption. In 2021, the EPA opined to simplify the reapplication procedure in the case of asset acquisition. According to the EPA, for certain permits concerning pollution prevention, the buyer will only need to apply for changing the content of the permits instead of undergoing a new permitting procedure, provided that the status of the pollution sources remains unchanged after the transaction.Environmental aspects in other transactions
What are the main environmental aspects to consider in other transactions?
For financing transactions, in tandem with the awareness of the global ESG trends, the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) implemented a series of measures to encourage Taiwanese banks to provide favourable lending conditions to companies that fulfil ESG requirements. In particular, the FSC issued an incentive plan to the banks that provide credits to companies in the ‘six core strategic industries’, one of which is the ‘green and renewable energy’.
For IPOs, serious environmental pollutions that are likely to affect an issuing company’s normal financial and business operation can be the grounds for rejection in the reviewing process on the Taiwan Stock Exchange. In the prospectus, the issuing company must also disclose all pollution incidents and losses or potential losses suffered due to the environmental damage claims or fines (ie, the environmental expenses), as well as the effects of the pollution on the company’s surplus, competitive status and capital expenditure.
Parties to real estate transactions should bear in mind that several Taiwan environmental protection laws concerning the pollution or waste remediation may impose a remediation obligation upon the acquirer under certain circumstances even if the pollution took place before the completion of the transaction.Environmental aspects in public procurement
Is environmental protection taken into consideration by public procurement regulations?
Under the Government Procurement Act, preference should be given to a bid by a bidder whose product has the same or similar functions as other competing products and has been awarded an environmental protection certificate. Such preference may include a price preference up to 10 per cent. The same preference may apply to products or their raw materials that are manufactured, to be used or to be disposed of in a way that is beneficial to the environment.
Environmental assessmentActivities subject to environmental assessment
Which types of activities are subject to environmental assessment?
According to the Environmental Impact Assessment Act (EIAA), 11 types of development activities are subject to environmental impact assessment. These development activities encompass industrial and non-industrial projects as follows:
- establishment of factories and development of industrial areas;
- development of roads, railways, mass rapid transit systems, harbours and airports;
- mining or prospecting activities;
- development of water storage, water supply, flood control and drainage projects;
- development and utilisation of agriculture, forestry, fishing, and pastoral land;
- development of amusement, scenic spots, golf courses and sports venues;
- development of cultural, educational and medical facilities;
- construction of new urban areas and high-rise buildings or renewal of old urban areas;
- construction of environmental protection projects;
- development of nuclear and other energy sources and construction of radioactive nuclear waste storage or processing sites; and
- other development activities announced by the central competent authority.
The environmental impact assessment must be conducted at the planning phase. While the approval granted by the EPA is not a licence of a development activity, it is usually a prerequisite to obtain the licence or permit to be issued by the competent authorities in charge of the relevant industry or development activity.Environmental assessment process
What are the main steps of the environmental assessment process?
The environmental assessment under the EIAA is characterised by a two-phase process.
The developer should prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) and submit the EIS to the competent authority governing the development activities. The authority governing the development activities will then refer the EIS to the EPA review committee for review.
If the review committee concludes that the proposed development activity would not cause a significant impact on the environment, it will announce the result of such a review and the project is considered EIA-cleared. The developer may need to revise the EIS according to the review opinions. In principle, the review period of Phase I Assessment should not exceed 50 days after receipt of the EIS, which may be extended for another 50 days. If the review committee concludes that the proposed development activity may cause significant impact on the environment, it should initiate the Phase II assessment.
Once the Phase II assessment is initiated, the developer should inform the relevant authorities in writing and publish the relevant information publicly (such as, on the newspaper and online, as may be required). The developer should also hold a public briefing and publish the information online. Then, the developer should consider the opinions from all sides and prepare the environmental impact assessment report (EIA Report). Public hearings should be conducted for the EIA Report before formal committee review. If the review committee considers that the development plan should not be implemented, the authority governing the development activity may not issue the relevant permit or licence to the developer.
Regulatory authoritiesRegulatory authorities
Which authorities are responsible for the environment and what is the scope of each regulator’s authority?
The central competent authority for environmental matters is the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA), while the local competent authorities are the local governments, which often delegate this competence further to their subordinate agencies or departments. The scope of authorities also varies based on the different laws governing specific environmental matters. As a rule of thumb, the EPA governs the environmental matters that have a nationwide dimension while the local governments govern the environmental matters within their administrative districts. However, it is not uncommon for EPA to delegate certain competences to the local governments.Investigation
What are the typical steps in an investigation?
One of the common investigative measures taken by the competent authorities for environmental matters is inspection. Non-compliance with such inspection or found during such inspection may result in administrative fines, which can be consecutive until such non-compliance is corrected. During the inspection, anything that can serve as evidence of non-compliance may be seized by the competent authority. The competent authority may invite interested third parties to make statements concerning the subject matter in connection with such inspection.
Generally, the affected party may not challenge an investigative measure such as inspection if it forms part of the administrative procedure. However, the affected party may only challenge such measure along with the final administrative disposition (such as imposition of a fine) unless the investigative measure can be separately enforced.Administrative decisions
What is the procedure for making administrative decisions?
When a competent authority intends to impose fines or other punitive measures upon the violator of environmental laws, it has to comply with certain procedural requirements set forth in the applicable laws and regulations, such as the Administrative Procedure Act and Administrative Penalty Act. Laws governing particular environmental issues may contain additional procedural requirements depending on the nature of the non-compliance.
The law does not limit the types of evidence that can be used by the party. The administrative authority is legally obliged to take into consideration all the circumstances available, regardless of whether such circumstance is beneficial or adverse to the affected party.Sanctions and remedies
What are the sanctions and remedies that may be imposed by the regulator for violations?
Sanctions and remedies that may be imposed by the regulator for violations of environmental laws are administrative penalties and, in severe cases, criminal penalties may follow. According to the Administrative Penalty Act, administrative penalties refer to administrative fines, forfeiture and other types of administrative penalties, which are: (1) restrictive and prohibitive orders (such as suspension of business); (2) orders of deprivation or abolition of eligibility or rights (such as cancellation of permits); (3) actions against reputation (such as publication of the name or penalty); and (4) actions of disciplinary warnings. For material violations of certain environmental regulations, the violator may be subject to criminal penalties, such as imprisonment or criminal fines, subject to the criminal court’s judgment.Appeal of regulators’ decisions
To what extent may decisions of the regulators be appealed, and to whom?
In the event that an administrative disposition issued by the regulator is unlawful (eg, without due process), the recipient or interested parties of such administrative disposition may file an administrative appeal against the regulator within 30 days of receipt of the administrative disposition. Then, the legality and appropriateness of such administrative disposition will be reviewed by an administrative appeal committee organised by the superior authority of the regulator.
Judicial proceedingsJudicial proceedings
Are environmental law proceedings in court civil, criminal or both?
Environmental law proceedings may take place in civil, criminal or administrative courts, depending on the nature of each claim. Anyone whose rights or legal interests were harmed by the unlawful administrative disposition may bring an administrative lawsuit to the administrative court seeking revocation of such administrative disposition after receiving an unfavourable administrative appeal decision.
Violators’ criminal liabilities are subject to the criminal court’s determination. In addition, if a violation causes any loss and damage to any third party, such third party may claim damages in a civil court.Powers of courts
What are the powers of courts in relation to infringements of environmental law?
In addition to adjudicating the legality of an administrative disposition, the administrative court has the power to issue an injunction. According to article 298 of the Administrative Litigation Act, in the event that it is necessary for preventing material harm or imminent danger, for the purpose of maintaining the temporary status quo regarding legal disputes under public law, one may seek an injunctive relief with the administrative court.Civil claims
Are civil claims allowed regarding infringements of environmental law?
In terms of an environmental law violation, contractual and non-contractual civil claims under the Civil Code are available. According to paragraph 2, article 184 of the Civil Code, the violator should be liable for the damage caused to others due to a violation of a statutory provision that is enacted for the protection of others. Furthermore, according to article 191-3 of the Civil Code, if the nature of certain works or activities, or their tools or methods might post risks of damage to others, the operator should be liable for the damage to others unless the damage wasnot caused by such works, activities, tools or methods, or the operator has exercised reasonable care to prevent such harm.Defences and indemnities
What defences or indemnities are available?Allocation of liability and joint or several liability
In principle, administrative penalties are mostly imposed on those who violate environmental laws and regulations. According to article 14 of the Administrative Penalty Act, those who intentionally and jointly violate the administrative laws shall be punished separately according to the seriousness of their acts. Joint and several liabilities may be stipulated under specific environmental regulations. For example, paragraph 1, article 31 of the Soil and Groundwater Pollution Remediation Act stipulates that the interested party of the polluted land, the polluter, and the person potentially responsible for pollution should bear the joint and several liability for certain costs incurred by the competent authorities to deal with the soil and groundwater pollution. As for civil indemnities, joint tortfeasors that unlawfully infringe the rights of others should bear joint and several liabilities under article 185 of the Civil Code.
Statutes of limitation
According to article 27 of the Administrative Penalty Act, the power to impose an administrative penalty should expire when a three-year period lapses. The three-year period should commence from the date on which the unlawful action ends; provided that if the result of such actions occurs later, the limitation should start to run from the date when such result occurs.
Strict liability is applied only when it is explicitly prescribed under specific legislation. For example, article 18 of the Nuclear Damage Compensation Act stipulated that the operator of a nuclear facility is liable for nuclear damages arising from a nuclear incident, regardless of whether it is caused intentionally or through negligence.Directors’ or officers’ defences
Are there specific defences in the case of directors’ or officers’ liability?
In principle, penalties under environmental laws are mostly imposed on the violators. However, according to article 15 of the Administrative Penalty Act, where a director or representative of a private entity causes such violation when performing their duties, they should be punished with a similar amount of fine if they have acts with intention or in gross negligence. A director or representative may also be punished by a similar amount of fine as that of the private entity if they fail to perform their duties to prevent any employee from causing a violation of law due to their act of intention or gross negligence.Appeal process
What is the appeal process from trials?
In general, three levels of appeal are available in ordinary civil and criminal proceedings in Taiwan. The proceedings of the first instance is usually conducted at the district court. An unfavourable judgment rendered by the district court can be appealed to the high court and the Supreme Court in the second and third instances, respectively. In ordinary criminal proceedings, the case may only be appealed to the Supreme Court only if such judgment contradicts the laws; in addition, criminal cases of certain lesser offences may not be appealed to the Supreme Court. The first instance of civil summary proceedings or civil small claim proceedings are handled by the summary divisions of the district court, and the case may be appealed to the ordinary district court.
Two levels of appeal are permissible for administrative lawsuits. In principle, high administrative courts hear the first instance of the ordinary litigation proceedings. Thereafter, the Supreme Administrative Court hears appeals from the high administrative courts. For summary proceedings, the first instance is conducted at the administrative litigation divisions of the district court, whereas the case can be appealed to high administrative courts in the second instance.
International treaties and institutionsInternational treaties
Is your country a contracting state to any international environmental treaties, or similar agreements?
Taiwan is not a contracting party to international environmental treaties or agreements.International treaties and regulatory policy
To what extent is regulatory policy affected by these treaties?
While Taiwan is not a contracting party to international environmental treaties or agreements, the Taiwan legislature and policymakers codify and incorporate major principles of international environmental treaties or agreements into domestic law as well as various environmental policies. This reflects the eagerness of the Taiwanese government to actively adopt measures that promote compliance and implementation.
Update and trendsKey developments of the past year
Are there any emerging trends or hot topics in environment law in your jurisdiction?
In July 2022, the Taipei High Administrative Court, for the first time in history, ruled that the Phase II Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of a major industrial park (Central Taiwan Science Park) was tainted with several procedural and substantive flaws and thus the Phase II EIA approval should be revoked. This high-profile environmental law case involves the issues of agricultural water quality, methodologies of health risk assessment, as well as complicated legal and scientific assessment in court. Another administrative lawsuit concerning the EIA of an airport in northern Taiwan was brought to court in 2021, which involves complicated urban planning and zonal expropriation procedures, denotes that EIA of major development projects continues to be controversial and susceptible to challenges launched by interested third parties.Coronavirus
What emergency legislation, relief programmes and other initiatives specific to your practice area has your state implemented to address the pandemic? Have any existing government programmes, laws or regulations been amended to address these concerns? What best practices are advisable for clients?
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