Agencies may be held responsible

Updated: 2014-04-22 07:17

(China Daily)

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Environmental impact assessment agencies and environmental monitoring agencies may be held jointly liable with polluting enterprises if assessment and monitoring reports provided by the agencies are found to be forged, according to a draft amendment to the Environmental Protection Law.

Experts expect the clause to result in better regulation of the environmental impact assessment market.

"The market is a little messy, with irresponsible data emerging in many environmental impact assessment reports," said Zhai Yong, head of the law chamber of the National People's Congress Environment Protection and Resources Conservation Committee.

He said that joint liability normally means civil liability, rather than criminal responsibility.

"For example, if a company was sued for causing pollution, and the agency that made the company's environmental impact assessment was found to have forged data during the assessment, which had partially led to the pollution, the agency should be liable for compensation," Zhai said.

An insider surnamed Chen, who works for an environmental impact assessment agency in Shanghai and who declined to give his full name, said the clause may affect private testing agencies more than environmental impact assessment agencies.

He said that during the assessment of an industrial project, samples from the local environment have to be collected and tested first before a decision is made on whether the project should go ahead or be aborted.

Assessment agencies usually outsource this work to testing agencies. Private testing agencies are always the top choice, because they are much cheaper and faster and can help make the data "look good", Chen said.

- Wu Wenchong and An Baijie

(China Daily 04/22/2014 page3)