According to the provisions of the Law on Environmental Protection, "waste" means any matter in a solid, liquid or gaseous form or other form which is discharged from production, business operation, service provision or living activities or from other activities..
Article 6 of Vietnam's Law on Environmental Protection 2020 stipulates the prohibited acts in environmental protection activities, including the act of discharge:
- Discharging wastewater and exhaust gases that have yet to be treated according to technical regulations on environment into the environment.
- Dispersing and releasing into the environment hazardous substances and harmful viruses capable of infecting humans and animals, untested microorganisms, dead bodies of animals dying of epidemics and other agents harmful to human health, creatures and nature.
- Generating noise and vibration in excess of the permissible level stipulated in technical regulations on environment; discharging smokes, dusts and noxious gases into the air.
Depending on the severity of the behavior, individuals and organizations that illegally discharge waste into the environment may be administratively sanctioned or considered as criminal liability.
Article 4 of Decree 155/2016/ND-CP stipulates penalties, fines for administrative violations against regulations on environmental protection as follows:
Any organizational/individual entities that commit administrative violations against regulations on environmental protection shall be liable to any of the following principal penalties:
- A warning;
- The maximum fine for a violation against regulations on environmental protection incurred by an individual is VND 1,000,000,000; that incurred by an organization is VND 2,000,000,000.
In addition, additional penalties and forced implementation of remedial measures shall be applied as prescribed in Clause 3 of this Article.
- Impose fixed-term suspension of environmental liences as regulated in Clause 2 Article 25 of the Law on penalties for administrative violations for 01 - 24 months as of the entry into force of the decision on imposition of penalty for administrative violation;
- Confiscate exhibits and/or instrumentalities of administrative violations against regulations on environmental protection.
Therefore, individuals and organizations who violate the regulation may be Impose fixed-term suspension of their License for treatment of hazardous waste/License for discharge of industrial emissions. All activities of enterprises will be temporarily suspended until the end of the treatment period, other activities not related to the discharge process are still allowed to continue. The removal of the waste treatment license only suspends the work related to the waste discharge activities of the enterprise, other activities will be allowed to operate normally.
Illegally discharging waste into the environment can be prosecuted for criminal liability for the crime of "causing environmental pollution".
Article 235 of the Criminal Code 2015 stipulates as follows:
"1. A person who commits any of the following acts shall be liable to a fine of from VND 100,000,000 to VND 1,000,000,000 or face a penalty of 01 - 05 years' imprisonment:
The offence committed in any of the following circumstances carries a fine of from VND 1,000,000,000 to VND 3,000,000,000 or a penalty of 03 - 07 years' imprisonment:
A person that commits any of the following acts despite the fact that he/she has incurred an administrative penalty or has an unspent conviction for the same offence shall be liable to a fine of from VND 50,000,000 to VND 500,000,000 or face a penalty of 03 - 24 months' imprisonment:
The offender might also be liable to a fine of from VND 30,000,000 to VND 200,000,000, prohibited from holding certain positions or doing certain works for 01 - 05 years.
Punishments incurred by a corporate legal entity that commits any of the offences specified in this Article:
a) A corporate legal entity that commits this offence in any of the circumstances specified in Clause 1 of this Article shall be liable to a fine of from VND 1,000,000,000 to VND 5,000,000,000;
b) A corporate legal entity that commits this offence in any of the circumstances specified in Clause 2 of this Article shall be liable to a fine of from VND 5,000,000,000 to VND 10,000,000,000 or has its operation suspended for 06 - 36 months;
c) A corporate legal entity that commits this offence in any of the circumstances specified in Clause 3 of this Article shall be liable to a fine of from VND 500,000,000 to VND 3,000,000,000;
d) A corporate legal entity that commits this offence in any of the circumstances specified in Article 79 hereof shall be permanently shut down;
dd) The violating corporate legal entity might also be liable to a fine of from VND 50,000,000 to VND 500,000,000, banned from operating in certain fields for 01 - 03 years.”
Thus, individuals who commit one of the acts of causing environmental pollution as prescribed in the above law may be sentenced to imprisonment for up to 7 years, in addition, they may also be fined from VND 30,000,000 to VND 200,000,000. , prohibited from holding certain posts, practicing certain professions or doing certain jobs. Commercial legal entities that commit crimes can be fined up to VND 10,000,000,000 and permanently suspended from operation.
Please refer to Jugdment on the crime of "causing environmental pollution" below:
Jugdment on the crime of causing environmental pollution No. 15/2022/HS-ST
Tran Thi D bought leftover wholesale coal from a production process to bury and raise the field. Even though this waste is know to have negative on the surrounding environment, D still hired people to lift the sacks and dump them into the hole in the area at the front of her house. According to the results of the field examination, the total weight of waste at the burial site was determined to be 503,730kg.
The People's Court of Ha Nam province declared defendant Tran Thi D guilty of "causing environmental pollution" and sentenced her to 03 (three) years in prison for a suspended sentence.