China China issues provisional measures on designation of person responsible for construction site soil contamination

China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment and Ministry of Natural Resources on January 28, 2021 jointly issued the Provisional Measures on the Designation of the Person Responsible for Construction Site Soil Pollution (the “Measures”), which takes effect on May 1, 2021. The Provisional Measures on the Designation of the Person Responsible for Farmland Soil Pollution was also issued on the same day.

China’s Soil Pollution Control Law states the following:

If it is unclear who is responsible for soil pollution or involved parties don’t agree on this matter, a responsible person is designated as follows:

  • For farmland, the local government’s departments for agriculture, agricultural villages, forestry, grassland, ecology, environment and natural resources jointly designate a responsible person.
  • For a construction site, the departments for ecology, environment and natural resources jointly designate a responsible person.

The State Council’s department for ecology and environment and other relevant departments jointly decide how to designate the responsible person.

The two sets of measures above provide a legal basis for designating a person responsible for soil pollution when it’s unclear who is responsible or involved parties don’t agree on this point, making it easier to hold the polluter accountable.

Article 4 of the Measures states the following:

The departments of the city-level local government where the construction site is located that are in charge of ecology and environment and natural resources jointly designate a person responsible for soil pollution. If the construction site spans more than one city, the departments of the provincial-level local government for ecology and environment and natural resources jointly designate a person responsible for soil pollution in the site.

Article 5 states the following:

The person responsible for soil pollution is obliged to manage the risk of soil pollution and remediate contaminated soils. If a person responsible for soil pollution cannot be designated, the person who has the right to use the construction site is required to control soil pollution risk and remediate contaminated soils. Soil pollution risk control and soil remediation include soil pollution status assessment, soil pollution risk assessment, risk control, soil remediation, risk control performance assessment, soil remediation performance assessment and later-stage management.

Article 9 to 22 set out how an application for the designation of a person responsible for soil pollution, an assessment of soil pollution, an examination of assessment results, the designation of a responsible person, etc. are performed.

The full text of the Measures (in simplified Chinese) is available at:

http://www.mee.gov.cn/xxgk2018/xxgk/xxgk03/202102/t20210202_819938.html