Harbin Pharmaceutical blasted for pollution scandal

Updated: 2011-06-10 10:44
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HARBIN -- Harbin Pharmaceutical Group, a major pharmaceutical company in northeast Heilongjiang Province, drew criticism after news broke detailing pollution problems at one of its factories.

"It's shameful that Harbin Pharmaceutical's general plant pollutes the environment,"wrote a netizen on, the Twitter-like microblogging service in China. Another suggested a boycott.

"Harbin Pharmaceutical has admitted the pollution. Its annual spending on advertising is 27 times of its investment on environmental protection.

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The severe criticism came after China Central Television reported Sunday that the antibiotics maker based in urban Harbin, the provincial capital of Heilongjiang, emitted waste gases and water that exceeded legal limits.

The plant has said in a statement that it cut the production of high-polluting products when its waste treatment facility was under repair and maintenance.

Many residents living near the plant don't open windows in summer because of the foul air. The plant, which has nearly 10,000 workers, has been emitting foul wastes for years.

For years, the odor concentration has been 20 times higher than legal limit, while the sewage discharge has been slightly higher than legal level, said Peng Xu, an inspector at Harbin City Bureau of Environmental Protection.

The increase in waste treatment investment did not match its capacity expansion, said an unnamed environment protection bureau official.

It spent 19.6 million yuan ($3.02 million) on waste treatment equipment last year, compared to 542 million yuan on marketing, according to its 2010 annual report.

To better tackle the problem, the plant has decided to build a production facility with improved techniques in the suburb of Harbin, said Ma Jie, the plant's vice president. The first-phase of the project is scheduled to be completed in 2013, Ma said.