China / Society

Company fined 3 million yuan for polluting desert

By ZHENG JINRAN (China Daily) Updated: 2015-03-23 07:32

A company in Gansu province that discharged waste water in the Tengger Desert has been shut down and fined 3 million yuan ($484,000), officials have revealed.

Two managers at the Ronghua Industry & Trade Company in Wuwei city were detained amid nationwide efforts to impose tougher punishments on polluters.

The company discharged more than 83,000 metric tons of untreated water in the desert through a concealed conduit between May 28, 2014, and March 6, according to a statement released by the city's government on Saturday. The polluted area is 23 kilometers east of the city and covers 18 hectares.

Most of the waste water has been collected and transferred to sewage treatment plants, and the remaining pollution will be dealt with later.

Ronghua Industry & Trade moved to a site in the city's Liangzhou district and started producing cornstarch and glutamic acid there in May last year. However, the equipment needed to prevent and control pollution was not installed when the plant started operating.

The company was ordered to suspend production, and the concealed conduit was removed. In addition to the fine, it had to pay a pollution discharge fee of more than 180,000 yuan, the statement said.

The company's chairman has been investigated for allegedly polluting the environment, and officials at the district and city governments have been suspended.

The statement said the company had ignored the need to protect the environment, and the environmental protection authorities neglected their supervisory duties, a Xinhua News Agency report said on Saturday.

The desert stretches across Gansu, the Ningxia Hui autonomous region and the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, and the case is the second involving the illegal discharge of waste water there.

In August 2014, several pits containing liquid waste were found, and the companies responsible were punished and ordered to move away from the area. Twenty-four officials at environmental protection bureaus in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region were suspended.

Chang Jiwen, deputy director of the Research Institute of Resources and Environment Policies at the State Council Development Research Center, said, "Companies discharge pollutants illegally because they want to pursue huge profits."

He said the companies failed to install equipment to control pollution, a move that slashed their costs.

"Lax supervision by the authorities is also a major factor behind illegal discharges," added Chang, who gave lectures to environmental protection officials in Gansu two weeks ago.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection has ordered watchdogs at different levels to implement the revised Environmental Protection Law fully to control pollution through regular rigorous inspections this year.

Hot Topics