BEIJING — China’s top legislature passed a law on soil pollution prevention and control on Aug 31, as the country has escalated its fight against pollution.
The law was adopted after the third reading at a session of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) that runs from Aug 27 to 31.
The new law filled the legal void on soil protection and will go into effect on January 1, 2019.
National standards for soil pollution risk control will be set by the environmental authority of the State Council based on soil contamination status, public health risks and ecological risks, among others, according to the law.
The law also states that a nationwide soil condition census should be conducted at least once every 10 years.
A network of monitoring stations should be established nationwide, with data and other information collected shared among authorities in environmental, agricultural, natural resources, housing, water resources, health and forestry and grassland sectors, it said.
Environmental and health authorities of the State Council are required to conduct screening and evaluation of toxic and harmful substances in the soil and make public a list of them.
According to the law, the central and provincial-level governments should establish funds to prevent and control soil pollution.
The new law has strengthened the responsibilities of governments and polluters in controlling and correcting soil pollution.
Farmland polluters are required to make rehabilitation plans, put them on government record, and carry out the plans. Upon completion, polluters should entrust professional institutions to evaluate the effects and report the results to local governments.
Environmental departments of governments at or above the provincial level should summon leading officials at or above the municipal level for admonitory talks on problems in their jurisdiction, such as serious soil pollution, inadequate prevention and control measures, and strong public discontent over pollution.
The legislation on soil protection is of great significance, and has provided a legal guarantee for the country’s fight for clean soil, said Zhang Guilong, deputy director of the Office for Administrative Law of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee.
China has escalated its fight against pollution through legislation. The NPC revised the law on air pollution in 2015 and the law on water pollution in 2017, restricting various sources of pollution and making environmental data more transparent.
The law on soil pollution prevention and control is the country’s first dedicated law on soil protection. Before its adoption, there were just a handful of provisions scattered across other laws, such as the Environmental Protection Law.