Unqualified assessors punished
Dozens of environmental impact assessment organizations did not meet licensing requirements during a nationwide check.
A total of 68 separate organizations were marked by the State Environmental Protection Administration.
Eight had their licences suspended, four narrowed the scope of their business, 11 were ordered to stop operations and make improvements and 16 were publicly criticized, the Administration said on Monday.
The rest were newly established business and authorities simply did not licence them.
Shu Jianmin, director of the environmental impact assessment centre under the Chinese Academy of Environmental Sciences, told China Daily yesterday that the check and punishments should improve the quality of environmental assessments.
The environmental impact assessment business is market-oriented and therefore needs supervision, he added.
"The check is very necessary" for the whole industry, said Yang Xiaodong, general manager of the Beijing Environmental Impact Assessment Company.
The company is one of the first environmental impact assessment organizations in China and passed the check.
Yang said the growing number of unqualified assessors is harmful for the development of the industry.
The administration recently examined 926 environmental impact assessment bodies in the country.
Vice-Minister of the administration Pan Yue said on Monday some sectors consuming large quantity of energy but polluting seriously just blindly expand their business and threaten the environment.
Therefore, environmental impact assessments are a crucial means of preventing pollution, he said.
Pan urged environmental impact assessment organizations to not do assessment on eight kinds of projects that go against national industrial policies, do not match development plans and are banned by the State.
The list includes such small projects as paper making plants that seriously pollute the environment and coal-burning power plants that do not meet sulphur dioxide control policies.
He also listed a number of potential pitfalls faced by environmental impact assessors, including using false statistics, untrue description of projects or environmental status and incorrect assessments.
According to Pan, management of environmental impact assessments will be more tightly controlled and an effective checking and responsibility-tracking system will be set up.
In addition to the current biannual check of environmental impact assessment organs, random checks will be carried out once or twice a year.
Punishment will be even more severe for any practices that violate the rules.
Another priority will be building a professional qualification system for environmental impact assessment engineers.
The system was introduced jointly by the Ministry of Personnel and the State Environmental Protection Administration in April. The first qualification examination is scheduled for the second season next year, China Daily reported in April.