Large Chinese drug producer fined for pollution

Updated: 2011-08-11 18:22


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HARBIN - Harbin Pharmaceutical Group, one of China's largest drug producers, has been ordered to pay a hefty fine for failing to meet environmental requirements, local authorities confirmed Thursday.

The environmental protection bureau in northeastern Heilongjiang province has ordered the company to pay a fine of 1.23 million yuan ($191,626) for using facilities and discharging exhaust gas without meeting environmental requirements, improperly storing and burning toxic waste, said Chi Xiaode, director of the bureau, on Thursday.

He said the bureau has sent supervisors to help the company make overhauls in more than 100 of its workshops, which were ordered to halt production since June after the problems were found.

The workshops in the company's General Pharmacy Factory mainly produce chemicals for making penicillin.

"The punishments are a showcase of the provincial government's determination in tightening checks on environmental violations," said Chi.

He said the punishments sent a warning to companies that "environment protection matters a lot to their survival."

Li Daping, vice president of the group company, told Xinhua on Thursday that the company will strictly follow the bureau's requirements.

"We have purchased the drug chemicals from other places to make up for the losses and to sustain production of the penicillin medicines," he said.

Residents living near the company's factory in Harbin City have long complained about fowl smelling air and water pollution. The complaints came after China Central TV exposed in June that the company emitted waste gas and water that exceeded legal limits.

Wu Zhijun, head of the company's General Pharmacy Factory, later apologized to the public and promised to revamp its pollution control.

He said the company had recently signed an agreement with the district government of Acheng in Harbin's outskirts to relocate the factory from the city's urban area to the district in three to five years, during which time the company would also upgrade its facilities.

The environmental official Chi said that the factory's production facilities and techniques were outdated, and it could only reduce production to avoid excessive pollution discharges.

The public have heavily criticized the drug maker, after it was found that in its 2010 report it only spent 19.6 million yuan on waste treatment equipment last year, compared with 542 million yuan on marketing.