When environmental damage has occurred:
- the operator informs the competent authority without delay of all relevant aspects of the situation;
- the operator puts all restrictive measures in place;
- the operator puts the necessary remediation measures in place, in accordance with Articles 15.3.3 up to and including 15.3.11.
Article 15.3.2. Translation not available
Choice and establishment of remediation measures
Article 15.3.3. The operators establish, in accordance with Articles 15.3.11 up to and including 15.3.11, the potential remediation measures and submit them to the competent authority for approval.
Remediation of damage to natural habitats, protected species and water
Article 15.3.4. When drafting the primary remediation measures, the options of returning natural resources or ecosystem functions to their reference condition in a direct and accelerated manner, or by natural generation, will be considered.
Article 15.3.5. When determining the extent of complementary and compensatory remediation measures, an approach which rests on the equivalence of the resources or functions will be considered first. In an approach of this type, measures which lead to natural resources or ecosystem functions of the same kind, quality and quantity as those affected will be considered first. If this is not possible, alternative natural resources or ecosystem functions will be provided.
If the approach stated in 15.3.5, based on the equivalence of the natural resources or functions, does not appear possible, alternative valuation techniques will be used.
If a valuation of the lost resources or functions is possible, but a valuation of the replacement natural resources or functions is not feasible within a reasonable period of time and at a reasonable cost, the competent authority can opt for remediation measures whose costs correspond with the estimated financial value of the lost natural resources or ecosystem functions.
Reasonable remediation options are to be assessed using the best available techniques and are to be based on the following criteria:
- the effect of each option on human health and safety;
- the costs of implementing the various options;
- the chances of success of each option;
- the degree to which each option will prevent future damage and in which unintentional damage can be avoided during implementation of the option;
- the degree to which each option benefits the various components of the relevant natural resources or ecosystem functions in question;
- the degree to which each option takes account of relevant social, economic and cultural issues and other relevant local factors;
- the time required to effectively remediate the environmental damage;
- the degree to which each option brings about the remediation of the location of the environmental damage;
- the geographic relationship with the damaged location.
Article 15.3.8. When evaluating the various remediation options, primary remediation measures can be chosen which do not entirely return the damaged water and protected species and natural habitats to their reference condition or return them to their reference condition in a shorter period of time. Such a decision can only be made if the natural resources or ecosystem functions under consideration are compensated by strengthening the complementary and compensatory measures, thereby creating a level of natural resources or ecosystem functions similar to that which originally existed.
Notwithstanding the provisions of Article 15.3.8, the competent authority can, in accordance with Article 15.8.10, decide that no further remediation measures be taken if:
- the remediation measures already put in place guarantee no significant danger of a negative impact on human health, water or protected species and natural habitats;
- the cost of the remediation measures to be put in place to achieve the reference condition or a similar level would not be proportional to the environmental benefits thus obtained.
Article 15.3.10. The remediation of damage to water, protected species and natural habitats also implies the removal of every significant risk of the negative impact on human health.
Remediation of soil damage
Article 15.3.11. The remediation of soil damage is subject to the relevant provisions of the Soil Decree.
Article 15.3.12. The Flemish Government can set further rules to assist implementation of the provisions of this section, and in particular, with reference to the content and procedure governing the operator’s obligation to provide information and the use of the valuation techniques.