Liability, and compensation and relief system for damages from environmental pollution

Liability, and compensation and relief system for damages from environmental pollution
Han; Sang-Un
Issue Date
Ministry of Environment, Korea Environment Institute
Series/Report No.
Korea Environmental Policy Bulletin : vol.12 issue2 2014
1-20 p.
On September 27, 2012, an accident releasing hydrofluoric acid gas into the atmosphere at a chemical factory in the Gumi National Industrial Complex caused approximately 55 billion KRW worth of human and property damages. As a result, the development of an effective compensation and relief of damages caused by environmental pollution was selected as one of the national agenda of the Park Geun-hye administration and it started to push forward for a compensation and relief framework for damages caused by environmental pollution in earnest. Currently, a “Draft Liability, Compensation and Relief from Damages Caused by Environmental Pollution Act (Draft Act),” to promote a swift relief based on the “polluter pays” principle has been submitted to the National Assembly Judiciary Committee for deliberation. The proposed framework in the draft act aims to alleviate suffering from the victims of environmental pollution, often compounded by prolonged litigations, and to reduce bankruptcy risks of the polluters. Furthermore, it aims to prevent taxing the public substantially and unfairly due to the government’s spending on the recovery efforts of the environmental damages. The Draft Act introduces the concepts of causation estimation and the right to request information in order to reduce the burden of verifying the damages from the victims. It also makes purchasing pollution liability insurance mandatory for businesses handling hazardous chemical substances. The proposed system establishes an environmental pollution damage compensation account in the government budget for environmental accidents by unknown, non-existent, or incompetent offenders as well as for the accidents that exceed the polluters’ liability limits. When enacted, the Draft Act will secure swift and safe relief for victims during environmental pollution emergencies, and distribute risks for the environmental businesses, allowing sustainable management of accidents.

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