Environmental damage: what to quantify, prevent and insure

The Environmental Responsibility of the various economic agents operating in Spain has already been required for the last two years with the passing of Law 26/2007 of 26 October on Environmental Responsibility. Also, its partial development, as defined by Regulation 2090/2008 of 22 December, has helped to better know the environmental damages repair projects contents.

Over the next year, one of the most important aspects of this new legislative framework will enter into force: the financial guarantee. From April 2010 it will be required a financial guarantee to cover any potential costs arising from environmental damage repairing (as defined in Article 2.1 of the Act). The affected economic agents are listed in Annex III of the Environmental Liability Act. This Annex includes a wide range of economic activities in various sectors such as those affected by the Seveso directive, subject to the integrated environmental permit or those which discharge wastewater to thesea.

As expected, the Spanish insurance market has been defining environmental liability insurances, not developed to date, for the economic operators concerned to comply with the legal requirements. Unlike the existing environmental civil liability insurances, environmental liability insurances are intended to repair environmental damage excluding injuries to persons, damage to private property or any economic or patrimonial loss that do not fall into the status of environmental damage.

Economic operators must immediately include the principles of analysis and prevention of environmental risks in order to obtain premium reductions in the updates of their insurance policies, as it already happens with fire insurances. Moreover, the economic operators must increase their knowledge of the present and future environmental impacts their activities may cause to their sites and surroundings. The very location of their facilities could be a decisive factor in calculating the levels of environmental risk, a fact that insurance companies will certainly consider.

Technical expertise support in environmental and industrial risk is of great importance for both economic operators and insurance companies. Moreover, the knowledge of the activity local surroundings will also be crucial for the technical equipment to perform the environmental risk assessment. Therefore, consultants involved with industrial risk must extend their knowledge of the environment (for example, knowledge about ecology and ecosystems) if they want to provide aproper quality service. Similarly, those consultants specializing in environmental management must extend their knowledge of assessment, analysis and risk management.

The multidisciplinary team of MediTerra covers both fields of activity, including environmental risk technical services and quantification of environmental damage. Our experience based on many years of field work, allows us to address this new market with the guarantee of providing good quality service to those companies that must ensure the environmental risk, the economic operators that must prevent environmental risks and the public administrations that approve environmental remediation projects.

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