Police experience helps environmental agency head

Updated: 2015-09-15 08:21

By Zheng Jinran in Chengdu(China Daily)

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An experienced former police officer has headed the environmental watchdog in Zigong, Sichuan province, for more than three years and is trying to give environmental protection work more bite.

"The enforcement teams are not strong enough to conduct inspections and other related tasks," said Xu Mingyuan, head of the city's Environmental Protection Bureau since 2012.

On one occasion a company was exposed for discharging pollutants illegally, and was fined 110,000 yuan ($17,280). But the official document for the case has fewer than 50 words, not enough to provide solid proof, he said.

"Our inspection is not an administration order, but a law enforcement action, thus without solid proof, the company could easily overturn our results," Xu said.

The 51-year-old from Meishan worked as a police officer for 30 years and said he was not satisfied with the law enforcement teams of the bureau at the beginning.

"We sent our staff in teams to work with the officers to see how to get solid proof, making the enforcement process efficient," Xu said.

"It's urgently needed for our teams, as well as others in the whole country."

The revised Environmental Protection Law took effect on Jan 1. It provides tougher punishments for polluters, including closing down polluting facilities and detaining the people responsible for the pollution. The officials in environmental watchdog teams have gradually shouldered more responsibility in their work.

This requires a more efficient enforcement process, which benefits from strict training from the police system, he said.

In China, cooperation between the public security and environmental systems has increased to strengthen the implementation of revised laws protecting the environment.

For example, Hebei, a province with severe air pollution, formed a special force within its public security team to focus on environmental cases in 2013 and has detained more than 500 people for polluting the environment.

Police experience helps environmental agency head

(China Daily 09/15/2015 page5)