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Beveridge & Diamond’s 100 lawyers in seven U.S. offices focus on environmental and natural resource law, litigation and dispute resolution. We help clients around the world resolve critical environmental and sustainability issues relating to their products, facilities, and operations. 

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Uruguay Highlights (Volume IV 2012)

Latin American Enviromental Report, Fourth Quarter 2012 

Uruguay Tightens Regulation of Marine Pollutants

On November 23, 2012, Uruguayan President José Mujica signed Law No. 19012 (the "Law"), amending Law No. 16688/1994 on the protection and readiness for acts of pollution of jurisdictional waters (la protección y vigilancia ante hechos de contaminación de las aguas jurisdiccionales). The Law incorporates the definition of pollutants from the International Maritime Organization’s Protocol on Preparedness, Response and Co-operation to Pollution Incidents by Hazardous and Noxious Substances, 2000. This definition includes harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens. (Art. 1) The Law also grants the Executive Power the authority to expand its scope to include "any other element or contaminant of water or of the environment that originates from the activity of vessels, aircraft or maritime installations." (Id.)

The Law creates a schedule of maximum fines for illegal discharges, varying from 1,000 to 10,000 "readjustable units" (unidades reajustables: a measure of value that is currently between U.S. $20 and $30). For hydrocarbons, the fine is calculated according to the amount discharged; whereas for harmful and potentially hazardous substances, the fine depends on several factors, and may be mitigated by the polluter’s response to the event. (Art. 5) The Law also strengthens liability provisions and adds financial guaranty and insurance obligations for ships and maritime installations, including a required contract with a contamination remediation business. (Arts. 6-9)

Reference Sources (in Spanish):

New Uruguayan Bill Would Regulate Large-Scale Mining Operations

On October 16, 2012, Uruguay’s Ministry of Industry Energy and Mining (Ministerio de Industria, Energía y Minería) submitted to the General Assembly a bill (the "Bill") to regulate large-scale mining (minería de gran porte) operations, to promote sustainable development of this sector. While mining has not traditionally been a major activity in Uruguay, it has increased in recent years, through foreign investment in gold and iron deposits. The Bill comes out of the work of the Multiparty Commission for the Analysis of Large-Scale Mining, which met from August to December of 2011.

 

The Bill would require applicant firms to submit an environmental impact statement as well as a plan for the closing and, if necessary, remediation, of decommissioned mines before commencing activities. Among other requirements for obtaining concessions, the Bill would establish compliance guarantees to cover the costs of the closing plan and any needed remediation of the site. Finally, the Bill proposes the creation of an Intergenerational Fund from government revenues for mining concessions, which would be used in part to finance environmental projects.

Reference Sources (in Spanish):