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Organic Code of Environment

Effective April 13, 2018, the Organic Code of Environment (OCE) will come into force.   This Code  regulates the administrative–environmental matters, and guarantees: i) the right of people to a healthy and balanced environment; and, ii) the rights of Nature.

Following is a summary of the OCE’s effects:

  1. In environmental matters: public and private decisions shall incorporate the environmental  principles established in the OCE: comprehensive responsibility, best available technology, sustainable development, the polluter-pays, in dubio pro natura, access to information and participation, caution, prevention and subsidiarity.
  1. The OCE incorporates regulations to protect the animals’ well being, including obligations, responsibilities and bans about treatment of animals.
  1. The government shall collaterally act in environmental damages in the following cases:
  • Unrepaired environmental damages;
  • In the absence of identified executors;
  • The executors had breached the remediation plan;
  • Due to the magnitude of the environmental damage, it cannot be expected the remediation by the executor; or,
  • Risk of new damages that the executor is not able to assume.
  1. The environmental impact has been classified as follows:
  • Non-significant impact: No permit is required, just good practices.
  • Minor impact: environmental management plan is required.
  • Medium impact: environmental impact assessment is required.
  • High impact: environmental impact assessment is required.
  1. The government is obligated to make prior consultations to people directly affected by the development of projects. However, the Environmental Authority has the final decision regarding the execution of the activities. For this reason, this consultation is not binding.
  1. The government will grant environmental incentives (economic, tax or honorary awards) for subjects that comply with regulations and improve the environment. The Environmental Authority will evaluate and grant such incentives.
  1. The executor of the activity is fully responsible for environmental damages. The OCE included further standards to determine responsibilities for environmental damages as follows:
  • In case of entities belonging to corporate groups, the responsibility may reach to the company that makes the decisions.
  • The responsibility may reach to the person in charge of the control of the activity and the managers during his/her administration.
  • In case of several causers, the responsibility will be joint and several.
  • In case of death of an individual, the pending liabilities shall be borne by the heirs.
  • In case of extinction of the entity, either the partners or the shareholders shall be responsible for the environmental damages in accordance with the regulations.
  1. The executors of the activity are obligated to notify the respective authority within 24 hours of the occurrence of environmental damages, and they shall implement the following actions, without delay:
  • Pollution contingency, mitigation and correction;
  • Environmental remediation and restoring;
  • Compensation and indemnification to affected people; and,
  • Monitoring and evaluation.
  1. The government shall establish sanctions in accordance with the magnitude of the environmental damage. These sanctions may involve several actions to achieve integral reparation.
  1. Sanctions may include economic penalties, forfeitures, destruction of goods, suspension of activities, termination of permits, loss of incentives and evictions.