Starting in 2017, the pollution controls applicable to businesses in the 20 industries with the most significant environmental impact will be gradually integrated to streamline the licensing/approval systems, and the existing licenses and approvals will be subject to periodic review by the Ministry of Environment.

On December 22, 2015, the Ministry of Environment promulgated the Act on Integrated Control of Environmental Pollution-generating Facilities (the "ICEPFA"), which integrates the governmental licensing/approval systems for certain pollution-generating facilities currently regulated by various environmental laws such as the Clean Air Conservation Act. In addition, under the ICEPFA, pollution-generating facilities will be subject to license/approval reviews every five years, and may be required to implement certain modifications to their pollution prevention facilities depending on the results of the review. These and other key provisions of the ICEPFA are summarized below.

1 Before applying for an integrated license/approval or a modified license/approval, the company must first consult with the Ministry of Environment regarding its plans for establishing pollution emission facilities and/or pollution prevention facilities (Article 5).

2 The facilities eligible for an integrated license/approval are those that (i) emit at least 20 tons/year of air pollutants or (ii) discharge at least 700㎥/day of industrial effluent (Article 6).

3 When issuing an integrated license/approval or approving modifications to an existing license/approval, the Ministry of Environment may require separate emission standards (e.g., the maximum level of permitted emissions) after consulting the relevant central government agency, and the subject pollution emission facilities will be required to comply with such standards (Articles 7, 8). 

4 With respect to the licensed/approved facilities, the Ministry of Environment will review the existing licensing/approval conditions or the emission standards applicable to the facilities every 5 years (in exceptional cases, 8 years), and be allowed to make modifications to the licensing/approval conditions or emission standards (Article 9).

5 Before a licensed/approved facility commences operation of its emission facilities, it will need to report such commencement to the Ministry of Environment(Article 12). 

6 The Ministry of Environment is required to prepare and implement the Best Available Techniques (BAT) economically and technically feasible in designing, establishing, and operating emission facilities, so that the emission of pollutants can be minimized (Article 24). 

The ICEPFA is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2017. Because the ICEPFA requires certain pollution-generating facilities to be subject to the Ministry of Environment's review every 5 (or 8) years in order to have their licenses/approvals renewed, such facilities, particularly those required to make modifications to their pollution prevention facilities, could find the new law to be quite burdensome.

Lee & Ko will continue to monitor any further legislative/regulatory developments surrounding the ICEPFA, including the adoption of implementing regulations, and will keep you apprised accordingly. In the meantime, please feel free to let us know if you have any questions regarding the ICEPFA.

Thank you.

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.