Official investigated over desert pollution

Updated: 2015-04-22 07:41

By Zhao Xinying(China Daily)

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Official investigated over desert pollution

Ronghua Industry & Trade Co was found to have illegally discharged over 83,000 metric tons of untreated sewage into a pit in the Tengger Desert. Chen Bin / Xinhua

An official in charge of environmental protection is being investigated after a company was allowed to pollute the desert with untreated sewage in Gansu province, according to the Supreme People's Procuratorate.

Prosecutors released a notice on Tuesday saying that Wen Wu, deputy director of the environmental protection bureau of Wuwei's Liangzhou district, was under investigation.

The notice stated that Wen didn't report and deal with the pollution in a timely manner, even though he knew a local company was illegally discharging pollutants into the Tengger Desert from June to January.

"The pollution went on because of Wen's failure to perform his duty of inspecting and reporting incidents, and it has an adverse impact on all of society," the notice said.

In March, Ronghua Industry & Trade Co, located in Liangzhou district, was reported to have secretly discharged more than 83,000 metric tons of untreated sewage into a pit in the Tengger Desert, contaminating around 18 hectares east of the city.

After the dumping was exposed, a cleanup was ordered, and most of the sewage and sludge was transferred to sewage treatment plants. Some was left in the bottom of the pit for further testing and research.

The company was shut down and fined 3 million yuan ($484,000). Its officials were detained and investigated for allegedly polluting the environment. Officials from the district and city governments were also suspended.

On April 6, a reporter from Changjiang Times, a newspaper in Hubei province, reported that some of the remaining material had been buried, but the district government denied that the next day on its official website.

The Tengger Desert, located in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region and central Gansu province, is the fourth-largest desert in China.

This is not the first time pollutants have been dumped in the desert. Last year, a Xinhua News Agency report said a chemical company in Zhongwei, in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region was found to have poured wastewater into a sewage pit in the desert.

The enterprise was ordered to clean up the pollution and shut down its old factory site permanently. It was also urged to construct a new factory that meets the national environmental standards.