He­bei cities cre­ate forces to probe vi­o­la­tions

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By ZHENG JINRAN in Shi­ji­azhuang Zhengjin­ran@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

All 11 cities in He­bei prov­ince have set up po­lice di­vi­sions to crack down on en­vi­ron­men­tal crime in a pi­lot project, au­thor­i­ties said.

The city di­vi­sions were in place by the end of last month, and “county pub­lic se­cu­rity bu­reaus are now build­ing their own forces”, said Gu Liang, spokes­woman for the project.

They will co­op­er­ate with the en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion bu­reaus of the coun­ties, cities and prov­ince to look into pol­lu­tion-re­lated crimes, ac­cord­ing to reg­u­la­tions laid out by the pro­vin­cial pub­lic se­cu­rity depart­ment, which started launch­ing the new di­vi­sions in Septem­ber.

How­ever, co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the bu­reaus and new di­vi­sions has not gone as well as hoped, an of­fi­cial who re­fused to be iden­ti­fied said.

Lo­cal pub­lic se­cu­rity forces lack the ex­per­tise in col­lect­ing ev­i­dence in en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tion cases, while the en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion depart­ment does not have the re­sources to pro­vide sup­port.

Be­sides, it is not easy to col­lect ev­i­dence of air pol­lu­tants, as many com­pa­nies emit pol­lu­tants over a short pe­riod at night, leav­ing no ev­i­dence.

As a re­sult, in­ves­ti­ga­tions in sus­pected en­vi­ron­men­tal crimes are mainly in sus­pected soil and wa­ter pol­lu­tion cases, the of­fi­cial said. Af­ter the lo­cal pub­lic-se­cu­rity and en­vi­ron­men­tal- pro­tec­tion teams work out how to co­op­er­ate in en­vi­ron­men­tal crimes, the new teams may play a big­ger role in pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment, the of­fi­cial added.

Chang Chun­ping, an as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor of en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion at He­bei Nor­mal Univer­sity, agreed that it is dif­fi­cult to fight en­vi­ron­men­tal crime.

“Set­ting up a spe­cial­ized team is a good start to de­ter those who pol­lute the en­vi­ron­ment, but not enough to su­per­vise the com­pa­nies and con­trol them ef­fec­tively,” he said.

Chang sug­gested that the gov­ern­ments re­quire com­pa­nies that dis­charge pol­lu­tants to in­stall sur­veil­lance cam­eras, and pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion will help the small po­lice team.

“But more im­por­tantly, the two de­part­ments need to work out a plan to con­trol pol­lu­tion jointly,” he said.

In Yu­tian county, site of the first crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tion, the com­pa­nies that used to pol­lute the air cleaned up their act af­ter the tough pun­ish­ment.

Xu Caiming, who owns a com­pany that pro­duces rub­ber from used tires, said his com­pany had been closed since the ex­po­sure in June, and in­stalled new equip­ment in re­duc­ing pol­lu­tants emis­sions.

“I have seen the re­sults of pol­lut­ing the air from the case in our county. I be­lieve mak­ing new crime cat­e­gories will work,” he said.

More than 1,000 small com­pa­nies have been shut down since then, bring­ing sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment to the air qual­ity, he added.

To re­open his fac­tory, he has to in­vest about 2.6 mil­lion yuan ($ 427,000) to up­date pro­duc­tion lines.

“I took this as an op­por­tu­nity to up­grade my prod­ucts,” he said. “Af­ter all, air pol­lu­tion af­fects all of us.”

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