Law No. 14,343 was published on Monday January 23, 2012 in the Official Bulletin of the Province of Buenos Aires. Such law is intended to regulate the identification of environmental liabilities and the obligation to restore contaminated sites. This law shall become effective on January 31, 2012 (hereinafter, the "Law"). Below follows a summary of the most significant aspects of the Law.
1. Obligation to Restore. the obligation to restore environmental liabilities and/or contaminated sites rests on the parties who conduct an activity that causes damage and/or on the owners of real property, if the person engaged in the contaminating activity may not be found. It also stipulates that any impaired environment constituting a contaminated site shall have to be restored in order to meet minimum environmental and public health conditions.
2. Obligation to Report. any person and/or official who learns about the existence of an environmental liability must report such liability to the enforcement authority.
3. Discontinuation or Transfer of Activities. Filing of Audit and Obligation to Restore. in case of final discontinuation or transfer of activities, the owner must file a closing audit and that such owner will have an obligation to restore if the evaluation of such audit shows results entailing "significant damage to the environment," (the owner will be released from such obligation only if the enforcement authority establishes, in an unequivocal manner, that the environment affected is in appropriate environmental condition). The law indicates the minimum requirements about the content of such closing audit and it provides that the procedure for its filing and evaluation will be established by means of regulations enacted in such connection.
4. Records. Information furnished to the Register of Real Property. The Law creates the Register of Environmental Liabilities and the Register of Professionals. Moreover, it provides that the enforcement authority will inform to the Register of Real Property of the Province of Buenos Aires (i) whenever environmental liabilities are registered in the Register of Environmental Liabilities (in order to add a note at the margin of the last registration of ownership) and (ii) the end of restoration activities and deregistration from the Register of Environmental Liabilities (to cancel the marginal note).
5. Urgent Measures. Information. The Law establishes, though not so clearly, that "when environmental damage has been produced or may be produced, the party liable therefor shall, without delay and without the need of any requirement or prior administrative procedure, take any preliminary action as may be necessary to remediate, restore or replace the natural resources immediately, notwithstanding any additional criteria established for the same purpose by the enforcement authority." Moreover, the law provides that within 24 hours from the damage caused, the party liable must report to the enforcement authority any urgent measures adopted and propose, for their approval, any actions to remediate damage caused.
6. Penalties. Preventive Measures. The Law provides a penalty system which imposes certain penalties, such as warnings, fines, final or temporary, total or partial closure of the facility and deregistration from registers in the case of contaminated sites. The Law establishes that the enforcement authority may order preventive closure, either totally or partially, of a contaminated facility or site in those cases where "the situation is so serious that it is advisable to do so."
7. Environmental Insurance. The Law refers to the obligation to take out environmental insurance as provided for by Section 22 of Framework Environmental Law No 25,675.
8. Enactment Decree. Partial Veto. Lastly, the enactment decree objected to certain sections of the Law related to the creation of a Provincial Environmental Fund (sections 6, 24 and 25).
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.