9,300 companies shut in pollution crackdown
China has been strengthening its environmental oversight under a revised law, shutting down 9,300 companies and suspending work at another 15,000 in the first six months of the year.
A revised Environmental Protection Law with more “teeth” took effect on Jan 1, holding more officials and company managers accountable for violations, and stipulating that governments shoulder the major responsibility for protecting and improving the environment.
In the first half of the year, environmental watchdogs inspected more than 620,000 companies.
Nearly 300 companies and branches were hit with daily fines reaching a total of 236 million yuan ($38 million) for continued violations during the period, and managers in 740 cases were prosecuted.
In Wuhan, Hubei province, for example, the Gao Xin Thermal Plant was found to be excessively emitting air pollutants and the Wuhan environmental protection bureau handed out daily fines totaling 2.1million yuan until the company installed the proper equipment.
However, Shaanxi Coal Chemical Energy Co in Xianyang, Shaanxi province, which faced a total of 15.8 million yuan in daily fines, has refused to pay, claiming that the bureau didn’t act as required under the law.
The Ministry of Environmental Protection has summoned leaders of 10 cities to report on pollution since the beginning of the year.
After “talks” with the national environmental watchdog, the cities have taken stronger measures against the officials responsible, the ministry said on Wednesday.
So far, 57 officials have been suspended or punished after being found responsible for air and water pollution.