Inspector Assaults Reported as China Cracks Down on Polluters

Turn to the nation's most objective and informative daily environmental news resource to learn how the United States and key players around the world are responding to the environmental...

By Michael Standaert

Several cases of obstruction and physical attacks on local environmental officials in China surfaced in recent weeks as they conduct special inspections nationwide, the Ministry of Environmental Protection noted April 17.

During the first two weeks of April alone, about 73 percent of the companies involved in the central government’s nationwide inspection campaign were found to have environmental violations ranging from illegal production activities, failure to use pollution control technologies, poor wastewater treatment and excessive emissions, the ministry said.

While many companies view the inspections as intrusive, the intensity of their resistance has come as a surprise to officials.

Ministry officials inspecting the Lujie Environmental Protection Technology Co. Ltd., which produces industrial boilers, were locked in a room for an hour and had to be escorted from the facility by police April 16, according to China Environment News, the ministry’s official news agency.

Inspectors found that the Beijing company was using substandard coal-fired boilers during the smelting process to produce the industrial boilers and failed to properly treat dust, waste gas and noise pollution.

A company representative later said the inspectors did not have the proper identification and documents to conduct the inspection and locked them in a room until police released them.

In another incident, environmental inspectors from the Wenling environmental protection bureau in coastal Zhejiang province photographed oil from Taizhou Dali Explosion-Proof Motor Co. Ltd. leaking into an area waterway. They became involved in a scuffle with company workers during which a camera was taken away, local state-run media reported April 17.

Police were called to calm the situation and Taizhou Dali was ordered to halt production so that a full-scale environmental inspection could take place.

During an On April 6 in Xiangtan, Hunan province, local environmental protection officials were inspecting water quality in the Lianshui River near the site of Xiangda Gravel Co. when company employees attacked them and broke several windows of the vans they were traveling in.

In previous inspections, environmental officials noted that the gravel operation did not contain wastewater properly, often leading to runoff from the site turning water yellow with heavy sediment for up to a kilometer downstream. The company was ordered to take remedial action as far back as 2014, China Environment News reported April 7.

In another incident March 17, four environmental inspectors were reported injured and a phone was smashed while they were trying to collect evidence of environmental violations at the Yi Xiang Textile Co. Ltd. in Anhui province, local state-run media reported in several outlets.

The attack occurred after the environmental officials found the company did not have the proper environmental impact assessments to expand the facility, which had been told to complete them a few years ago, according to a report.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Standaert in Shenzhen, China, at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Greg Henderson at ghenderson@bna.com

Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Request Environment & Energy Report