“Fine Dust” as Socially-Generated Natural Disaster – Amendment to the Framework Act on the Management of Disasters and Safety 2019

As a further reaction to the fine dust-issue in Korea, the Chair of Korea’s Public Administration and Security Committee proposed an Amendment to the Framework Act on the Management of Disasters and Safety (hereinafter a “Act on Management of Disasters”) on March 13, 2019. The regulation shall become effective upon promulgation. The major legal change is the “damages caused by fine dust” as a being defined as a “socially-generated natural disaster.”

Framework Act on the Management of Disasters and Safety

Due to rising problems fine dust causes in Korea, the Korean Government has implemented numerous regulations and safety measures to allegedly reduce the damaging influence of fine dust to the Korean society. Not long ago the Korean Special Act on Fine Dust Abatement and Management was amended, which legally defined the different types of dust and enabled officials to set certain fine dust reduction measures, such as suspension of certain work. The following Amendment is, also, intended to give more power to government to fight the affects of fine dust.

The intent of the amendment of the Framework Act on Management of Disasters is to “…establish disaster and safety management systems of the State and local governments and to prescribe matters necessary for the disaster prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery, activities for safety culture, and disaster and safety management, in order to preserve national land against various disasters and to protect citizens’ lives, bodies, and property.“ (Art 1 Act on Management of Disasters).

The aforementioned Act stipulates inter alia the establishment of a Central Countermeasure Headquarters, which exercises “…general control over, and […] coordinate matters concerning the response and recovery […] from large-scale disasters,…” a proper process to report disasters, safety management plans, as well as preparing, preventive and restoration measures.

Major Provisions of the Korean Amendment to the Framework Act on the Management of Disasters and Safety

The current Art 3 subparagraph 1 shall be amended and shall add “damage caused by fine dust” to the list of “socially-generated disasters,” as part of the “natural disasters.”

The implementation of “damages caused by fine dust” as “natural disaster” allows for e local governments, certain agencies and public institutions to, among other things, utilize:

  • Countermeasures: such as inspections and management of disaster prevention facilities, education and training in preparation for disasters, as well as accumulating resources for disaster management and designation of equipment and human resources;
  • Emergency Measures: such as restrictions, declaring the state of disaster and giving evacuation orders; and
  • Restorative measures: like damage investigations and financial support for certain disaster areas.

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