Summary of Environmental Law in Mexico

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22 Transportation

 

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22.1 Institutions with Authority over Transportation

 

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The institution with authority over all transportation matters is the Secretariat of Communications and Transport (Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes (SCT)). The SCT is responsible for: (1) developing and executing policies and programs relating to the transportation needs of the country; (2) granting concessions, contracts and permits to private and public entities intending to carry out transportation activities; (3) issuing regulations and Official Mexican Standards (Normas Oficiales Mexicanas (NOMs)) relating to the operation of public transportation systems and public works, such as roads, airports and sea ports; (4) regulating the Federal Roads and Ports Police; and (5) enforcing legal provisions with respect to all transportation undertakings.

In addition, SCT is in charge of all public communication services, including postal, telegraph and telephone services and all other electric and electronic communication systems. It is important to note that there is a National Standardization Advisory Committee on Land Transport (Comité Consultivo Nacional de Normalización de Transporte Terreste (CCNN-TT)), which is the organization responsible for developing NOMs in the area of land transport under SCT. CCNN-TT has a chairman, a technical secretary, a recording secretary, and representatives from the Energy Secretariat (Secretaría de Energia (SENER)), the Health Secretariat (Secretaría de Salud (SSA)), the Secretariat of Labor and Social Welfare (Secretaría de Trabajo y Previsión Social (STPS)), the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT)), the Secretariat of Foreign Relations (Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores (SRE)), the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganaderia, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentación (SAGARPA)), the Secretariat of the Economy (Secretaría de Economía (SE)), the Finance Secretariat (Secretaría de Hacienda y Credito Público (SHCP)), the Secretariat of National Defense (Secretaría de Defensa Nacional (SEDENA)), the Secretariat of the Interior (Secretaría de Gobernación (SEGOB)), the Secretariat of Public Safety (Secretaría de Seguridad Pública (SSP)), the Mexican Transportation Institute (Instituto Mexicano del Trasporte), and Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX). CCNN-TT also includes industrial and business organizations, research centers and institutions of higher education, and consumer representatives.

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22.2 Public Transportation Policies

 

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Public transportation policies are integrated into Mexico's general transportation plans developed by the SCT pursuant to the General Highways Law (Ley de Vías Generales de Comunicación) (hereinafter Highways Law, which governs all means of transportation and communication by air, water and land. Environmental policies regulating public transportation are contemplated under the General Law of Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection (Ley General del Equilibrio Ecológico y la Protección al Ambiente) (hereinafter Ecology Law). Under the Ecology Law, all public and private activities must comply with all environmental laws and regulations. For example, an environmental impact assessment (EIA) must be submitted prior to starting construction of any public road. All federal public transportation vehicles must also comply with emission verification and certification programs.

Ecology Law. Article 112(XII) of the Law provides that the Federal District government, together with state and municipal governments, is responsible for regulating emissions from public transportation vehicles, except federal ones, for the purpose of controlling and preventing air pollution and applying traffic suspension measures in cases of serious concern.

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22.3 Energy Efficiency Standards for Automobile and Other Vehicles

 

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Vehicle efficiency is an integral part of the Energy Conservation Plan (Plan de Conservación de Energía) developed by the National Commission for Energy Conservation (Comisión Nacional de Ahorro de Energía (CONAE )), a special executive body made up of SE, SHCP, SEMARNAT, SCT, the Education Secretariat (Secretaría de Educación Pública (SEP)), the Federal Electricity Commission (Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE)), the Federal District Government and PEMEX. CONAE is currently conducting technical and economic studies on vehicle energy efficiency in order to issue the corresponding NOMs. The Commission has also developed a series of nation-wide programs for information dissemination, operator training and seminars on automotive energy efficiency.

NOM-016-ENER-2002 was published on 13 January 2003, regarding the energy efficiency of alternating current motors. This standard is the result of the North American Energy Working Group (NAEWG), of which CONAE is a part. NAEWG was established in spring 2001 by Canada's Minister of Natural Resources and the U.S. and Mexican Energy Secretaries.

NAEWG's goals are to promote communication and cooperation between the governments and energy sectors of the three countries in areas of common interest, and to improve energy trade and interconnection in North America with a view to sustainable development, to the benefit of the three parties. This cooperation process will respect fully the national policies, jurisdictional divisions of authority, and the obligations assumed by each country. The focus of NAEWG discussions includes a broad spectrum of energy development, production, transport, transmission, distribution and consumption in North America. It also considers the broad range of energy sources, as well as the efficient and clean production and use of energy.

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22.4 Vessel Source Pollution of Water

 

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Generally speaking, it is prohibited to discharge any waste, oil or petroleum byproducts, wastewater and other dangerous and noxious elements that could contaminate or harm waters under Mexican jurisdiction. All maritime transportation and traffic must comply with the provisions of the Ecology Law and those of international laws pertaining to ocean waste dumping.

Vessel discharges into both coastal and fresh waters are regulated through a comprehensive permitting regime that is set forth in the Ecology Law, the National Waters Law (Ley de Aguas Nacionales) and the Regulation under the National Waters Law (Reglamento de la Ley de Aguas Nacionales) (hereinafter National Waters Regulation). The general rule is that all legal entities, including vessels, must obtain permits from SEMARNAT for any continuous, intermittent or unforeseen wastewater discharges into any receiving body, whether it holds fresh or salt water. Wastewater discharge standards, generally set forth according to specific industries, are issued by SEMARNAT .

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22.5 Transportation of Hazardous Materials

 

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Overview. Land transportation of hazardous materials and waste are governed by the General Highways Law (Ley de Vías Generales de Comunicación) and the Regulation thereunder Regarding the Land Transportation of Hazardous Waste and Materials (Reglamento del Transporte Terrestre de Materiales y Residuos Peligrosos) (hereinafter Waste Transportation Regulation). The Waste Transportation Regulation governs the transport of both hazardous materials and hazardous waste. Water transportation of hazardous materials and waste is governed by the Navigation Law (Ley de Navegación). Transportation of hazardous waste by air is explicitly prohibited. Carriers of hazardous materials and waste are additionally responsible for complying with the transport provisions set out under the Hazardous Waste Regulation (Reglamento de Residuos Peligrosos). The Waste Transportation Regulation is intended to complement, not substitute, the transportation provisions contemplated under the Hazardous Waste Regulation.

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22.5.1 Land Transportation of Hazardous Substances

 

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Definition of Hazardous Materials and Waste. Under the Waste Transportation Regulation, hazardous materials are distinguished from hazardous wastes. Generally speaking, hazardous materials are defined as those dangerous substances, their remnants, containers, packaging or other components which comprise all or part of a cargo to be transported. A dangerous substance is in turn defined as any element, compound, material or mixture that, independently from its physical state, poses a potential risk to public health, the environment or the safety of users and third-party property. Remnants are defined as all hazardous substances, materials or residues that remain in empty containers, boxes or packaging. Hazardous waste, on the other hand, includes all waste, regardless of its physical state, that represents a danger for the environment due to its corrosive, toxic, poisonous, reactive, explosive, flammable, biologically infectious or irritant properties. For the purposes of this section, hazardous materials and waste will be referred to as "hazardous substances." This definition corresponds to that under the Ecology Law.

Classification System. All hazardous substances to be transported must be identified and classified according to the comprehensive system established under the Waste Transportation Regulation. The Waste Transportation Regulation classification system divides hazardous substances into nine classes: (1) explosives; (2) compressed, refrigerated, liquid or pressurized gases; (3) flammable liquids; (4) flammable solids; (5) oxides and organic peroxides; (6) acute toxins (poisonous) and infectious agents; (7) radioactive substances; (8) corrosive substances; and (9) others. It should be noted that the classification system under the Waste Transportation Regulation works independently from the Corrosiveness, Reactivity, Explosion potential, Toxicity, Flammability and Biological Contamination (CRETIB) characteristic identification system provided for under the Hazardous Waste Regulation and NOM-052-ECOL-1993. All hazardous waste to be transported must be classified according to both the Transportation Class System and the CRETIB system. The characteristics of the container and packaging labels for the transportation of hazardous substances, materials and waste are contained in NOM-003-SCT -2000.

Containers. In addition to the comprehensive classification system applying to hazardous substances intended for transport, the Waste Transportation Regulation sets forth a number of provisions that regulate cargo containers. Although the Waste Transportation Regulation does not define container per se, it makes a general distinction between interior and exterior containers. The single technical requirement established in the Waste Transportation Regulation states broadly that all containers must have sufficient resistance to tolerate internal pressure changes, which can occur under normal or special transportation circumstances. NOM-024-SCT 2-1993 sets forth container construction and reconstruction methods, as well as container testing methods, while NOM-027-SCT 2-1993 provides general standards for Class 5.2 organic peroxide containers.

Each container with a hazardous substance cargo must be clearly labeled with the official transportation symbols established under NOM-003-SCT 2-1993 and NOM-007-SCT 2-1993. These labels must be indelible, legible, and visible and show that applicable NOMs have been adhered to. In addition, NOM-010-SCT 2-1994 contemplates unsuitability standards for certain containers, as far as transportation is concerned.

Transportation Units. The Waste Transportation Regulation governs hazardous waste transportation both by motor vehicles and by railway. This section will deal only with automotive transport. The standards for railway transportation are basically the same.

Automotive Transportation Units. Generally speaking, all automotive transportation units that carry hazardous substances must comply with the Waste Transportation Regulation, as well as with any applicable Official Mexican Standards. A transportation unit includes any vehicle that carries hazardous substances, as well as any motorized or non-motorized trailers. The following NOMs have been issued in regard to the construction of transportation units: NOM-020-SCT 2-1994, NOM-029-SCT 2-1994, NOM-030-SCT 2-1994, NOM-032-SCT 2-1994 and NOM-046-SCT 2-1994. To ensure compliance, the construction, overhauling and repair of all units and their trailers must be verified and certified by SCT authorized certification centers.

Unit Identification System. All trucks, trailers, cisterns and intermediate bulk receptors intended for hazardous substance cargo transport must be marked with a special permanent metal license plate located in a place easily accessible for inspection purposes. NOM-004-SCT -2000 governs the identification system for units intended to carry hazardous substances, materials and waste.

Unit Inspections. Carriers are responsible for the preventive and corrective maintenance of their units. Units must undergo periodic technical and functional inspections by the SCT or its authorized inspection centers in order to ensure continued compliance and safety. The carrier must also verify that the transportation units are in optimum operating, physical and mechanical conditions prior to any cargo loading and shipping.

Documents. Under the General Highways Law, all units must have special permits to use the national highway system. In addition, under the Waste Transportation Regulation a series of documents and permits in connection with the transport of hazardous substances is required. Both the shipper and the carrier must hold special hazardous substances transportation permits issued by the SCT . Transport units carrying hazardous waste must also carry the transportation documents and manifests required under the Hazardous Waste Regulation, described below. Finally, information on and description of the product or substance being shipped must provided by producers or generators of hazardous substances both to the carrier and to SCT.

Special Requirements for the Transport of Hazardous Waste. Transportation companies that generate any kind of hazardous substance that must be washed or decontaminated in the transportation units must comply with the Hazardous Waste Regulation. Carriers of hazardous waste will thus be often obliged to comply with the permit and manifest requirements applying to hazardous waste generators and handlers.

Under Article 9 of the Hazardous Waste Regulation, hazardous waste carriers are also deemed "handlers". As a result, carriers must obtain the hazardous waste handling permit granted by SEMARNAT . In addition to obtaining such a permit, both generators and carriers must comply with the SEMARNAT manifest system. A single comprehensive manifest, covering the transportation, delivery and receipt of hazardous waste, has been devised by SEMARNAT . Hazardous waste generators are ultimately held responsible for ensuring compliance with the manifest procedures. NOM-EM-011-SCT -2000 provides the conditions for transporting hazardous substances, materials or waste in limited quantities.

Carriers have the following obligations under Article 26 of the Hazardous Waste Regulation:

  1. Obtaining authorization from SEMARNAT ;
  2. Requesting the original manifest from the generator for each cargo to be transported;
  3. Signing the original of the manifest and receive two copies of same;
  4. Verifying that the hazardous wastes received from the generator are correctly packed and identified in accordance with the applicable NOMs;
  5. Complying with the workplace safety and hygiene standards contemplated under the Labor Law (Ley Federal del Trabajo) and any applicable SCT regulations; and
  6. Preparing a semi-annual report on the hazardous waste received for transportation and submitting it to SEMARNAT .

NOM-005-SCT -2000 contains the emergency information for the transport of hazardous substances, materials and waste.

Sanctions. Sanctions for offenses under the Waste Transportation Regulation depend upon the provision being violated. Fines of up to 1,000 times the minimum daily wage may be imposed for minor violations; more serious violations may be fined up to 2,000 times the minimum daily wage; and severe violations may be sanctioned with up to 5,000 times the minimum daily wage. A table listing the various provisions and the corresponding fines is provided in the Waste Transportation Regulation. Speeding violations can be fined up to 1,000 times the minimum daily wage. Repeat offenders may be fined up to two times the original amount. The procedure for determining the sanction is based upon the financial condition of the violator, whether the violation was intentional, the seriousness of the violation and whether the subject of the fine is a repeat offender. Sanctions applied by SCT do not preclude other agencies from imposing additional fines for the same violation.

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22.5.2 Transportation of Hazardous Substances by Water

 

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There are no specific provisions governing the transport of hazardous substances by water; therefore the general provisions of the Navigation Law apply. The Navigation Law applies to the following waterways: territorial seas, rivers, streams, lakes, lagoons, navigable estuaries and canals. The SCT has jurisdiction over the management and enforcement of the Navigation Law. Vessels that transport hazardous cargo are classified as "special." All vessels must have a Matriculation Certificate (Certificado de Matriculación) and be registered in the National Maritime Public Registry (Registro Público Nacional Marítimo). Although there are no specific requirements for the transport of hazardous cargoes, all of the relevant permits required under the Ecology Law and other environmental regulations apply. A vessel intending to carry hazardous waste would therefore be required to obtain a hazardous waste handling permit and comply with all of the transportation provisions set forth under the Hazardous Waste Regulation.

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2003