Resolution Calling for the Elimination of Damage Caused by Illegal Dumping and Fundamental Reforms to the Resource Recycling Legislation
Establishing a sustainable society, and preventing the exhaustion of resources and global warming are pressing issues for human beings. Recycling resources, refraining from wasting resources, and disposing of wastes through means that do not have a negative impact on the environment are indispensable in order to achieve these goals.
However, our mass production and consumption society has not changed for a long time and has generated massive and various wastes. In addition, necessary laws have not been developed and the supervising authority has not been appropriately exercised. As a result, numerous cases of illegal dumping and improper treatment of wastes (mainly industrial wastes) have been found all over Japan, such as an illegal dumping case along the border area between Aomori and Iwate Prefectures. These cases could cause extensive and irreparable damage to local residents as toxic substances released from the wastes may widely contaminate water and soil in the surrounding area. Therefore, measures to prevent the spread of contamination and restore the contaminated area to its original state should be immediately taken. However, a system to obligate the persons responsible for illegal waste disposal, etc., to take such measures has not been developed. Thus the huge expenses necessary to take the measures have been shifted to local governments and residents in the damaged areas or the potential risks of contamination spreading have been left without taking sufficient measures.
In order to improve the current situation, it is essential to strengthen a system to immediately secure funds by sharing expenses in an appropriate and fair way, and conduct corrective measures as well as preventing illegal dumping. Furthermore, as more fundamental measures, it is also important to strengthen the responsibilities of producers and business operators who generate wastes; promote the reduction of waste generation, and the re-use and recycling of resources; and secure appropriate methods for treating wastes.
Therefore, in order to eliminate the damage caused by illegal dumping and establish a sustainable society, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) requests that the related legislation be improved and that policies, including the issues listed below, be promoted.
1, In the meantime, governments of the state, prefectures and cities specified by the Order for the Enforcement of the Waste Management and Public Cleansing Act (hereinafter referred to as “the state and local governments”) should immediately take the measures listed below against illegal waste disposal.
- Appropriate research on the risks of contamination spreading and measures to prevent contamination from spreading should be carried out.
- Budgets and existing funds to appropriately restore damaged areas to their original states should be enhanced.
- The unfair burden of expenses imposed on local governments and residents for the restoration of damaged areas should be corrected.
2, The state should thoroughly review the legislation related to the recycling of resources including the Waste Management and Public Cleansing Act, the Basic Act on Establishing a Sound Material-Cycle Society, and other recycling related acts, and should drastically revise them focusing on the issues listed below.
- Concrete obligations of business operators to reduce wastes should be established and strengthened.
- Concrete obligations of business operators to restrict and control the use of hazardous substances should be established and strengthened.
- Manufacturers of particular products should be obligated to collect their used products without any charges and recycle them.
- Obligations of business operators who generate wastes should be strengthened and clarified in order to facilitate investigation into their responsibilities for illegal dumping cases. In addition, it is necessary to establish a system where all operators in the same business incur the expenses to take measures against an illegal dumping case.
- A mandatory insurance system, etc. of waste treatment operators should be introduced in order to ensure that the waste treatment operator which has illegally disposed of wastes will fully discharge its responsibility.
- The category of “Stable-Waste Landfill Site (Non-Leachate-Controlled Type)” which is one of the categories of landfill sites should be abolished. In addition, standards for the construction, management, and control of waste treatment facilities should be strengthened, including restrictions on sites for the construction and operation of “Waste Landfill Site (Leachate-Controlled Type)” from the standpoint of protecting tap water sources.
- Public authorities should properly control all processes of waste treatment by making the electronic manifest system mandatory.
- The discretion of administration in exercising power, such as orders for action and substitute execution to restore damaged areas to their original state, should be obligatory in order to ensure that local governments immediately and appropriately exercise their power.
3, The state and local governments should carry out the measures and modifications to legislation listed below in order to ensure that immediate and appropriate measures can be taken in regard to waste administration.
- Local governments should establish a system under which a standing third body composed of local residents, members of environmental NGOs, and academics/experts, such as legal professionals, monitors and supervises administrative authorities in their exercising power. In addition, another system to secure the right of residents to participate in the decision-making processes concerning their local environment and waste administration should also be created.
- The state should legislate to promote the participation of residents mentioned in the above (1). In addition, in order to strengthen the roles of local residents in each case, the state should modify the related laws to allow local residents and environmental NGOs to observe on-site inspections of waste treatment facilities and to facilitate their filing lawsuits against administrative authorities.
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
October 8, 2010, at the JFBA Convention on Protection of Human Rights