Environmental watchdog gets tough over pollution

Updated: 2015-04-11 08:11

By Zheng Jinran(China Daily)

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Environmental watchdog gets tough over pollution

A woman wears a mask while walking on Guanghua Road in Beijing on Thursday as the city is shrouded in haze for a second day. [Wei Xiaohao/China Daily]

The national environmental watchdog has imposed tougher penalties and larger fines on companies and individuals following the introduction of revised legislation.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection has imposed the new daily fine measure to 26 companies with the total amount of more than 12.4 million yuan ($2 million) nationwide in the two months after the updated Environmental Protection Law took effect on Jan 1.

In addition, production plants belonging to 527 companies were closed, 207 businesses were ordered to suspend their operations, and managers at 147 companies were placed in administrative detention in January and February, the ministry revealed on Friday.

Officials describe the measures as the "teeth" of the revised anti-pollution law.

"We have seen a positive impact on our efforts to curb pollution after imposing a series of penalties and carrying out inspections while implementing the law," said Zou Shoumin, director of the ministry's Environmental Supervision Bureau.

A thermoelectric plant operated by Lu'an Xinjiang Coal Chemical Corp was found to be discharging excessive quantities of nitrogen oxides in February. The ministry fined the company on a daily base with the total reaching 2.08 million yuan.

Jilin province's Environmental Protection Bureau fined a branch of the China National Petroleum Corp 780,000 yuan for discharging excessive amounts of air pollutants.

Efforts to combat pollution intensified in February after more bureaus received training on the revised law and conducted joint inspections with public security officials, Zou said.

The number of production plants that were closed increased by 208 percent in February compared with the previous month. The number of people placed in detention rose by 115 percent, while the number of fines grew by 60 percent.

The revised law gives environmental protection authorities the power to close down polluting companies and seal off their facilities.

However, they may face obstruction from local governments wishing to protect polluting companies for economic reasons, said Chang Jiwen, deputy director of the Research Institute of Resources and Environmental Policies at the State Council Development Research Center.

Chen Jining, the environmental protection minister, has pledged to make the implementation of the law his top priority this year.