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Environmental NGO sues polluter

Updated: 2015-03-26 07:42
(China Daily/Xinhua)

An environmental federation is suing an industrial polluter in Shandong province for damages from air pollution.

It is the country's first environmental lawsuit under a new law that took effect on Jan 1.

On Wednesday, the Intermediate People's Court in Dezhou, Shandong province, confirmed that it had accepted a lawsuit filed by the All-China Environment Federation. In it, the federation demanded 30 million yuan ($4.8 million) compensation for damages from air pollution discharged by Zhenhua Co, an affiliate of the Dezhou Jinghua Group.

The case arose after Zhenhua Co, which produces glass, neglected warnings by environmental watchdogs that it was emitting excess sulfur and dust.

The company was placed on a blacklist by the Ministry of Environmental Protection in October last year after failing to treat the emissions.

Experts from the federation received several strong complaints from residents living near the company's plant, which regularly discharges foul-smelling yellow smoke.

"Neither fines by the local environmental watchdog nor the blacklist warning by the ministry pushed the polluter to take effective measures in pollution control. The litigation is a new attempt to check headstrong violators like Zhenhua," said Ma Yong, a litigation director with the federation.

It is the first case since amendments to the Environmental Protection Law were enacted by China's national legislature in April that made it much easier for environmental NGOs to file lawsuits against polluters for the public good.

Fu Qiang, a lawyer with the Shandong Pengfei Law Firm, said big industrial polluters are often protected by the local government, which makes pollution control difficult.

The federation's involvement has also triggered more government efforts.

The Dezhou city government has urged Zhenhua Co to immediately overhaul emission treatment facilities to meet pollution control requirements before the end of the month or it would be ordered to suspend production on April 1.

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