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News Alert

New Regulation on Atmospheric Pollution

One of the most groundbreaking legal innovations that have occurred during 2011 is the enactment of the regulation that contains the Primary Standard on Fine Inhalable Particulate Matter PM 2.5 and the Emission

Standard for Thermoelectric Power Plants. Both regulations will enter into force on January the 1st of 2012.

The promulgation of both regulations represents an important improvement in matter of air pollution, and it is expected that these norms will bring benefits to the environment and people’s health as well as new challenges for the energy sector.

• Supreme Decree N° 12/11 of the Ministry of the Environment: Primary 

Standard on fine inhalable particulate matter PM 2.5

As every Primary Standard, Supreme Decree N° 12/11 of the Ministry of the Environment (hereinafter the “SD 12/11”) establishes maximum values of a determined pollutant in the environment, with the objective of protecting people’s life and health. In this case, the regulated pollutant is the breathable particulate matter, this is, particulate material whose diameter is smaller than 2.5 μ (hereinafter “PM 2.5”).

PM 2.5 is a qualification of particulate matter, which is tiny enough to penetrate the respiratory track deep into the pulmonary alveolus. Main sources of this pollutant are cars, buses and trucks, thermoelectric power plants, boilers, industrial processes, foundries, metallurgyic processes, biomass combustion, firewood heating, agricultural burning and ammonium emissions from agricultural processes.

The Primary Standard on breathable particulate matter PM 2.5 establishes in the SD 12/11 is the following: twenty microgram per cubic meter (20 μg/m3) as the maximum annual concentration and fifty microgram Carey y Cía. Ltda. per cubic meter (50 μg/m3) as the maximum 24 hour concentration.

The aforementioned regulation also provides that the norm will be considered as exceeded when 98% of the daily average concentration registered during a year is over 50 μg/m3, as well as the tri-annual average of annual concentration is over 20 μg/m3, measured in any of the survey meter station characterized as a population representative survey meter station (estaciones de monitoreo con representatividad poblacional).

If an increase in PM 2.5 concentrations occurs within a determined zone (a whole region, a borough or a zone specified in the corresponding declaration), reaching 80% to 100% of the values fixed in the Primary Standard, the zone will be declared as a “Latent Zone”. On the other hand, if 100% of the maximum values fixed in the Primary Standard were exceeded, the authority may declare the zone as “Saturated Zone”. Such declarations are the

prelude for the formulation of a Prevention and Decontamination Plans, respectively.

Article 5 of the SD 12/11 also defines the levels that will trigger a declaration of an environmental emergency situation that contains specific actions in order to restore the levels of concentration allowed by law, such as suspension of some industrial activity, restrictions on the use of automobiles among others. These levels are those in which the 24-hour- concentration is within the ranges established in the following table, contained in the aforementioned article:

Nivel Concentración 24 horas
MP2,5 (μg/m3)
1 Alerta 80-109
2 Preemergencia 110-169
3 Emergencia 170 o superior

SD 12/11 will be enforceable as from 1st of January of 2012. Nevertheless, its interim article establishes that, for the declaration of Latent or Saturated Zone, the data that might be used is the one obtained from measurements performed previous their enactment. Also, it establishes that the auditing entity will be the relevant Health Ministerial Regional Secretary, until the full enactment of the Environmental Superintendence.

If you have any questions regarding the matters discussed in this memorandum, please contact the following attorneys or call your regular Carey contact.

This memorandum is provided by Carey y Cía. Ltda. for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.

Carey y Cía. Ltda.
Isidora Goyenechea 2800, Piso 43
Las Condes, Santiago, Chile.