Court rejects citizens' compensation claims for tap water contamination

( Xinhua )

Updated: 2015-12-02

A Chinese court has overruled compensation claims brought up by nine citizens, who demanded a total of 60,000 yuan (around 9,400 U.S. dollars) from several companies for tap water contamination in northwestern Chinese city of Lanzhou.

The People's Court of Chengguan District in Lanzhou, capital of Gansu Province, announced the verdict at a press conference on Friday. The court heard the three separate suits filed by nine residents on Nov. 17 and Nov. 18.

They demanded an apology and compensation from enterprises including Lanzhou Veolia Water Company, a Sino-French joint venture and the sole water supplier for urban Lanzhou, and Lanzhou Petrochemical, a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corporation, the country's largest oil company.

The compensation involved the money they spent buying bottled water, having medical checkups, work delays and psychological damage.

Su Kehong, deputy head of the court, admitted that Lanzhou Veolia's lack of regulatory supervision led to the tap water crisis, but the court rejected the claims because the company had adopted remedial measures to deal with and compensate for the pollution, such as apologizing to the public, publishing water quality testing data, and cutting down water charges on locals.

The court also overruled the compensation claims against other firms, Su said, without revealing specific reasons.

One of the residents said he would appeal at the court, while others have not decided yet.

On April 11 last year, the Lanzhou government warned residents not to drink tap water for 24 hours, after more than 10 times the national standard of benzene was found in the tap water. The crisis affected local people's lives and caused panic.

According to investigations, cracks were found on outdated ducts at a water plant owned by Lanzhou Veolia. Underneath the ducts lies Lanzhou Petrochemical's oil pipeline. Crude oil leaks from the pipeline had polluted the soil and underground water, which seeped through the cracks of the duct and brought hazardous levels of benzene into the city's tap water.



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