China / Society

NGOs take chemical factories to court

By Cao Yin (China Daily) Updated: 2016-05-23 14:57

Environmental NGOs are suing three chemical plants in a high-profile case of alleged soil contamination that may have affected students at a school in eastern China.

Zhang Jianwen, spokesman for Changzhou Intermediate People's Court in Jiangsu province, confirmed on Sunday that a public interest lawsuit has been filed with the court.

The suit has been brought by the groups Friends of Nature, China Biodiversity Conservation and the Green Development Foundation.

The court accepted it after receiving the indictment and related material.

Last month, blood samples taken from students at Changzhou Foreign Language School reportedly showed abnormal readings after the students moved to the school's new campus near the former sites of the chemical plants.

The nongovernmental organizations allege that the three chemical factories polluted the environment. They have asked the court to order the factories to remove pollutants and to pay environmental restoration fees, according to the indictment.

Zhang said, "We'll pay attention to the case and strictly carry out the procedures for public lawsuits in line with the law."

He did not release further details about the case, such as when it will be heard.

The NGOs submitted the indictment to the court on April 29, alleging that the factories moved out of the area after seriously polluting land in Changlong, where the plants were located, adding that the polluted areas have not been restored.

Wang Wenyong, a lawyer at the foundation, said the litigation is based on surveys the three NGOs carried out after the alleged pollution occurred.

After negotiations with Friends of Nature, "we decided to combine efforts to bring a civil public interest lawsuit against the factories", he said.

"We are studying and collecting other evidence in the case and are considering appealing to other departments involved with it at an appropriate time," he added.

In April, the State Council made an environmental report to the National People's Congress Standing Committee, which for the first time drew the attention of a number of deputies.

Deputies Yan Yixin and Du Liming suggested that the government increase soil monitoring posts and provide a special fund to prevent soil from being damaged.

Chen Jining, minister of environmental protection, said in the ministry's annual work report in January that it is considering the Action Plan on Soil Pollution Prevention and Control, a national campaign targeting soil pollution.h

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