ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS AND THEIR EXECUTION IN THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY
Prof. Dr. D. Übing and Dr. L. Kropp
TÜV Rheinland, Am Grauen Stein, 5000 Köln 91, Federal Republic of Germany
1.Introduction and fundamentals
The modern industrial society generated a great wellbeing of man due to the use of technology. This, however, also leads to environmental impact and safety risks to a large extent.
Safety and environmental policy must therefore intend to reduce impact, hazards and risks to man and nature as effective as possible.
The main principles of environmental policy in the Federal Republic of Germany are
- the prevention principle
- the "polluters pay" principle
- the cooperation principle
The COOPERATION PRINCIPLE, requires the joint activity of official parties, the plant operators and the public to avoid environmental damage, hazards or molestations. It also requests international cooperation in environmental policy.
The "POLLUTERS PAY" principle requests that whoever has caused a damage must pay for its consequences. It therefore is an economic means to reduce emissions at the sources.
The PREVENTION PRINCIPLE asks to avoid environmental impact, hazard or damage instead of repairing damages. This goal shall be reached by
-Setting Uniform Emission Standards
- Setting Environmental Quality Objectives
- Applying Cross - Media Approaches
UNIFORM EMISSION STANDARDS mean maximum emission standards or emission limits which can be attained when applying the state of the technology or even the state of the science. Prevention also requires revision of these emission standards from time to time.
ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY OBJECTIVES mean maximum environmental standards being set so that e.g. pollutants do not harm critical receptors like man and nature as well as the quality of air, of water and of soil.
Applying CROSS-MEDIA APPROACHES mean that different media like air, water, soil and their interrelationship are considered together - not separately. A very concrete tool for this is the guideline of the European Community of the German law on Environmental Impact Assessment for certain and private projects. Therefore, when fixing environmental quality objectives the consequences with respect to other media have also to be taken into account.
The measures to achieve environmental protection policy in the FRG are in general:
- measures with respect to plants
- measures with respect to products
- measures with respect to regions.
Environmental protection with RESPECT TO PLANTS is practiced via the strong performance of licensing procedure for every plant. Especially emission standards must be met and modern technologies must be employed. More details will be presented later.
Environmental protection with RESPECT TO PRODUCTS is for instance done by applying the law and its regulations for the introduction of chemical substances (Chemikaliengesetz, Gefahrstoff-Verordnung). Each chemical substance has to be checked in advance that adverse effects will not arise before the substance is brought into use. Another example of measures with respect to products is the limitation of sulfur content in fuels and of lead content in petrol.
Environmental protection with RESPECT TO REGIONAL ASPECTS is attained by e.g. clean air plans or noise reduction plans as they are required by the environmental protection laws and its regulations. Sorting from the actual environmental situation the dominant responsible sources are evaluated where reduction measures yield the highest effect on environmental impact.
Whereas these instruments are more reactive measures, there are also obligatory preventive instruments with respect to regional aspects as the water handling plans (Wasserwirtschaftsplan), the waste handling plans (Abfallwirtschaftspläne), regional planning (Regionalplanung und Raumordnung), land use plans (Bauleitpläne), preventive site planning (Standortvorsorgepläne) and others.
2. Organisation and legislation
The responsibility in the frame of the environmental policy is with the federal government (figs. 1 and a). The federal government or the respective ministry define contents and procedures of the different objectives as well as emission and quality standards. So, the federal government is the legislative organization while the federal states are the executing ones. They have to watch over and to advice the licensing and supervising bodies when performing their tasks. The licenses for chemical plants, waste handling plants and similar plants are given by the regional administration (e.g. Regieringspräsident), while licenses for smaller industrial works or power stations are given by the Factory Inspectorates (Gewerbeaufsichtsämter).
The supervision of all plants mentioned before is in the responsibility of the factory inspectors. This supervision concerns the environmental aspects, the safety aspects as well as the working place aspects.
Assistant technical and scientific bodies to the environmental ministries are the federal environmental protection agency (Umweltbundesamt) and the federal state institutions for environmental protection (Landwsanstalten für Umweltschutz). The latter ones give scientific advice as well to the state ministries as to the licensing and supervising bodies, they also are responsible for the establishing of e.g. clean air plans and regional data collection on environmental impact. The Environmental Protection Agency give scientific advice to the federal government and coordinates research and development projects of environmental concern.
All the official bodies are supported, e.g. in the licensing procedures by independent experts or expert organizations like the TUV which are accepted by the state ministries as qualified and independent.
The administrative tools for achieving the environmental policy are the corresponding laws (about 20), ordinances, regulations (more than 40) and administrative guidelines, examples of which are listed in figs. 2, 3, and 4.
The requirements of ordinances are compulsory for the plant operators while the administrative regulations are obligatory for the licensing or supervising authorities.
3. Current concerns, development
Industrial and economic development lead to environmental and ecological impact, molestations, hazards or even damages. Some remarkable events of public and official concern on environmental aspects were:
-The Seveso accident with high air and soil pollution and - some years later - with problems of waste tourism.
-Flixborough incident with high damage within the plant.
-The forest damages in the German black forest and in Czekoslowakia as well as the acidification of
-The Chernobyl accident with increased radioactivity in Europe.
-The Sandoz incident with heavy hazards to aquatic life in the Rhine.
Actually, the soil contamination at sites of old plants raise problems when reusing these areas especially for living or recreation.
All these events raised the necessity and engagement of administration and public in environmental affairs and initiated revisions and amendments of laws and regulations. The most important shall be discussed in the following.
3.1Main Environmental Law (Bundesimmissionsschutsgesetz)
The fundamental law for the protection against air pollution is the Federal Environmental Protection law of 1974, a successor of the old Trade Ordinance of the 19th century. The main administrative regulation to this law are the technical instruction to protect air quality (so called TA Luft or TI Air) and the technical instruction for the protection against noise (so called TA Lärm or TI Noise).
The objectives of the TA Luft (fig. 5) were to restrict the release of polluting substances by setting emission limits and to reach air quality standards. The first TA Luft came into force in 1964 even 10 years before the Environmental Protection law was introduced. In the mean time the TA Luft was revised three times.
The 1964 version requested formalized licensing procedures for such industrial plants listed in a catalog of environmentally relevant plants. Aft that time it was introduced to measure the ambient air quality in the surrounding of the plant (circle with 3 km radius). Ambient air quality standards were set for 8 pollutants. Emissions were to be released via stacks with special requirements. Emissions standards were fixed for the main components dust and sulfur dioxide. Special requirements were requested for 7 plant types.
The first revision of the TA Luft in 1974 introduced further emission limit values for 3 classes each of (56) dust and (127) gaseous pollutants. Continuous emission measurements were asked for 9 air polluting components. Special requirements were requested for 8 more plant types.
The 1983 revision of the TA Luft then included ambient air quality standards for 5 more components. These standards were stronger by two means: Firstly, the figures were reduced and secondly, the differential geographical area of judgement (Beurteilingsfläch) was reduced from 4 km x 4 km to 1 km x 1 km size.
The latest amendment of 1986 extended the special emission requirements to 35 more plant types. It included also that bad smell and its molestation impact had to be taken into account. Finally, the 1986 version requested the retrofitting of existing plants and installations until 1994 under the following conditions: If emissions exceeded the new emission standards by a factor of 3, of 1.5 or of 1 the maximum time available for reduction was set to 3, 5 or 8 years.
Some typical emission standards are shown in fig. 6.
Depending on the mass flow of pollutant concentration limits are set as the example for dust illustrates: below a mass flow of 500 g/h the emission limit is 150 mg/m3 maximum.
Three years before this last TA Luft revision came into force a reduction program of the main pollutants was initiated for the large combustion plants. A corresponding ordinance was elaborated with strong emission limits of SO2 and NOx for new plants.
Stringent measures had to be realized on due course at operating plants (so called "old" plants).
The objectives of the 1983's ordinance on large furnaces were to reach emission values of less than 400 mg SO2/m3 and about 800 to 350 mg NOx/m3 for new plants. The goals for old existing plants depended on the expected life times. A time schedule correlated with more or less strong emission limits were set up in the large combustion plant ordinance. While the SO2-limit was fixed one, the NOx-reduction should follow the dynamic principle of best reachable means (Dynamisierungsklausel). Some data on emission limits are given in (fig.7) for orientation. The environmental minister's conference some months later fixed the goal for the NOx-emission limit to less than 200 mg NOx/m3.
Finally, until 1993 old plants ought reach the requested emission limits or should be replaced by new plants.
It is expected that due to these measures the sulfur-dioxide emission of power plants will be reduced until 1993 at the latest against 1982 as follows:
Sulfur dioxide by about 2/3
nitrogen oxide by about 50% and
dust by about 1/3.
A third regulation in the field of air pollution deals with the reduction of air pollutant emissions from motor vehicles and domestic heating by fixing maximum pollutant content in fuels (fig. 8).
The law on the lead content in gasoline of 1971 (rev.1976)
requested maximum permissible values of
0,4 Pb/l from 01.01.1972 and
0,15 Pb/l from 01.01.1986 onwards.
The ordinance on gasoline quality of 1985 defines lead-free qualities of fuels with values of 0,015 Pb/l, in practice the lead contents amounts to 1 or 2 mg/m3, only.
The ordinance on the sulfur content in fuel of 1975 requested values of 0,55 % als per May 1975, of o,5 % as per May 1976 and 0,3 % as per January 1979. At present a value of 0,15 % is discussed as goal in the Fed. Rep. of Germany while in the European Community a reduction to 0,2 % is seen as strongest limit.
These measures and the introduction of low pollution vehicles shall reduce the emissions from the car traffic as follows:
Nitrogen oxide by about 50 % and
hydrocarbon by about 2/3.
Taking all aforementioned measures together due to the
-large furnace ordinance
-technical instruction on air pollution (TA Luft-emission reduction measures)
-introduction of lead free petrol with NOx-reduction
-reduction of sulfur content
This will lead to an overall reduction of the main polluting components SO2, NO2 and dust as shown in Figure 9.