January 31, 2006
An Ordinance of the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) partially amending the Ordinance of Prime Minister's Office that had partially amended the Ordinance of the Prime Minister's Office on Effluent Standard (hereinafter referred to as "the Ordinance") was promulgated today, and will come into force on February 1, 2006.
Taking into consideration the development and commercialization of wastewater treatment technologies as well as concentration levels of selenium and its compounds in effluent, the Ordinance authorizes the extension to the effective term of the provisional effluent standard on selenium and its compounds, from January 31, 2006 to January 31, 2009.
Under the Water Pollution Control Law (hereinafter referred to as "the Law") 'harmful substance' is defined as a substance that may cause harmful damages to human health. The Law stipulates the effluent standard to be applied across Japan (uniform effluent standard) in order to regulate the discharge of such substances in effluent. Selenium and its compounds were designated as harmful substances, and their uniform effluent standard was stipulated under the Law in 1993 and was enforced on February 1, 1994. At the same time, provisional standard was stipulated for some factories and business establishments where the achievement of the uniform effluent standard was considered extremely difficult. The provisional standard was revised in 1997, 2000 and again in 2003, and were gradually abolished or strengthened.
Aiming to achieve the uniform effluent standard, factories and business establishments which are currently classified as selenium compound manufacturers subject to the provisional standard have worked on lowering the concentration of these substances in effluent through conducting studies on wastewater treatment technologies and improvement of treatment facilities. As a result, a survey on the concentration levels of selenium and its compounds in effluent from these establishments has shown certain improvement. However, stable wastewater treatment technologies are yet to be developed and commercialized, thus making the achievement of the uniform effluent standard an ongoing difficulty.