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Environment agency blacklisted
By Sun Xiaohua (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-10-27 05:50

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Centre in Peking University has been blacklisted due to malpractices.

The decision was made by the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), which will take strict measures to discipline EIA agencies nationwide.

Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau verified the EIA Centre in Peking University did not observe EIA standards, did not carry out complete investigations on environmental protection of areas around projects, made misrepresentations about the projects and their environmental impact, and had no reliable analysis on the use of clean energy in the projects.

The municipal bureau sent the case to SEPA, which ordered the centre to suspend operations for three months, increase discipline and improve technology, a SEPA spokesman said.

Three small and medium-sized projects in the capital were involved in the case. Two were real estate projects and the other was part of a secondary school construction project.

SEPA is responsible for licensing EIA agencies, supervising their operations and punishing them for wrongdoings. EIA agencies are paid by constructors to carry out assessment and provide reports to environmental protection bureaus.

"There are many reasons for the malpractices by EIA agencies," said a SEPA official yesterday on a series of malpractices by EIA agencies recently, which also included the case of lead poisoning in Henan Province reported by China Daily last Wednesday.

"Some irresponsible EIA agencies regard their job as a kind of procedure, which is required for the planning and construction of a project, but not for the environment," the official said.

"Some agencies do not have sufficient technology to carry out the assessments," she said.

"It is possible for EIA agencies to charge more from constructors to play down environmental problems," she said.

"EIA agencies, as a kind of consultant, need to reach a balance," said Zhang Jianyu, visiting scholar to Tsinghua University. "On one hand, they need to get business from constructors and meet their demands; on the other hand, EIA agencies need to be responsible for environmental quality to maintain their reputation."

SEPA will take strict measures to discipline EIA agencies. Irresponsible EIA agencies will have their licenses withdrawn, a credit database will be set up, and heads of EIA agencies will be required to receive training to improve their technology and skills.

A staff member from Peking University's College of Environmental Sciences told China Daily that they "are investigating the connection between EIA and the university."

(China Daily 10/27/2005 page2)

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