(Feb. 7, 2013) The Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs (MLTM) of the Republic of Korea promulgated the revised enforcement rule for the Marine Environment Management Act on December 29, 2011, with respect to banning the dumping of food wastewater into the ocean, effective from 2013 onwards. (MLTM Decree No. 423 [in Korean] (Dec. 29, 2011).) This will be the first year that Korea will comply with the 1972 Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter (known as the London Convention). in relation to food wastewater. The revised rule has already banned the disposal of livestock manure and sewage sludge into the sea since 2012, when part of it entered into force. (Id.)
The Marine Environment Management Act was enacted to comply with the the London Convention. The Republic of Korea joined the London Convention on December 21, 1993, and ratified the 1996 Protocol to the Convention on January 22, 1999. (Status of the London Convention and Protocol, International Maritime Organization [IMO] website (July 19, 2012); 1996 Protocol to the London Convention 1972: Overview of Contracting States, IMO website (May 28, 2012).)
The aim of the London Convention, which at present has 87 signatory states, is to prevent marine pollution caused by the dumping of waste and other matter into the ocean. The London Protocol, which updated the Convention, has been ratified by 42 parties, including Korea. (London Convention and Protocol, IMO website (last visited Jan. 30, 2013).)
Following the coming into force of the amended enforcement rule on January 1, 2013, food waste disposal companies in Seoul, Korea, have been battling with local district offices over the renewal of contracts that contain increased fees for food waste disposal. (Kwon Sang-Soo, Food Trash Festers Since Change in Regulation, KOREA JOONGANG DAILY (Jan. 22, 2013).) The food waste disposal companies claim that, because the revised rule has banned dumping food wastewater into the sea, the payments for handling food wastewater on land should be increased. (Editorial, Curbing Food Waste, THE KOREA HERALD (Jan. 22, 2013).) A local district officer said, however, that “[w]e wish we could appease their demands, but we have to provide an additional 3.5 billion won. We will renegotiate the fee after we study the appropriate price.” (Yoo Seong-woon & Cho Han-dae, Food Trash Overflows as Contract Fights Linger, KOREA JOONGANG DAILY (Jan. 14, 2013).)
Under a separate decree, dumping industrial wastewater and sludge into the sea will be prohibited from 2014. (MLTM Decree No. 555 [in Korean] (Dec. 21, 2012).)
Written by Faith Jo, Intern, Law Library of Congress, under the guidance of Sayuri Umeda, Senior Foreign Law Specialist.