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China Adopts Yellow River Protection Law

- In control areas along the mainstream and tributaries of the Yellow River, the new construction and expansion of chemical parks/projects will be prohibited. Heavy penalties will apply if there is any violation. - In the whole Yellow River basin, environmental risk assessment and control of toxic and hazardous chemicals will be implemented by authorities.

On October 30, 2022, the Yellow River Protection Law (hereinafter referred to as the Law) was adopted by the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, which targets key issues of the Yellow River basin*, e.g., water shortage, ecological fragility and flooding, etc. The Law is the second piece of legislation on a key river basin in China after the enactment of the Yangtze River Protection Law**. It will take effect on April 1, 2023.

*Yellow River basin refers to administrative regions at the county level of Qinghai Province, Sichuan Province, Gansu Province, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Shanxi Province, Shaanxi Province, Henan Province, and Shandong Province in the catchment area formed by the mainstream, tributaries, and lakes of the Yellow River. 


** Yangtze River Protection Law was adopted in late 2020 and came into force on March 1, 2021. It imposed a ban on the waterway transport of highly toxic chemicals and other hazardous chemicals which are prohibited from inland waterway transport by the State in the Yangtze River basin. Previous ChemLinked articles in this regard:

Case Analysis: Ingredients Disclosure Requirements on Dangerous Goods Shipping in Yangtze River Basin

FAQs about “Green Channel” for 100% Ingredients Disclosure Issues on DG Cargoes Shipped via Shanghai Waigaoqiao Port as per the Yangtze River Protection Law

The Law consists of 11 chapters of 122 articles. Chemical industries need to pay special attention to the followings.

A ban will be imposed on new construction and expansion of chemical parks/projects.

As per Article 26 and Article 109 of the Law, a ban will be imposed on the new construction and expansion of chemical industrial parks and chemical projects in the control areas along the mainstream and tributaries of the Yellow River. If there’s a violation, a fine between 500,000 RMB and 5,000,000 RMB shall be imposed, and such chemical parks or chemical projects shall be slated for demolition.

Environmental risk assessment of toxic and hazardous chemicals will be carried out, in aid to new pollutants treatment.

As per Article 80 of the Law, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) will take actions below:

  • Conducting investigation and monitoring of toxic and hazardous chemicals in the air, water, soil and organisms within the Yellow River basin; and

  • Carrying out environmental risk assessment and control of toxic and hazardous chemicals in the Yellow River Basin in conjunction with National Health Commission and other competent authorities.

These actions will pave the way for the source control of new pollutants as most of them are generated in the production and use of toxic and hazardous chemicals. In addition, the Law stipulates that the MEE and relevant local authorities in the Yellow River basin shall strengthen the control and treatment of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and other new pollutants.

As prescribed in the Action Plan for New Pollutants Treatment adopted in May 2022, pilot projects for new pollutant treatment should be conducted in selected enterprises and industrial parks in the Yangtze River basin, Yellow River basin, key drinking water sources and key estuaries and bays. According to many provinces and cities’ draft local work plans for new pollutants, relevant projects have been proposed, see: Provinces and Cities in China Draft Local Work Plans for New Pollutants Treatment.

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