SHANGHAI (Reuters) - The eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu has successfully sued a chemical producer for dumping waste in the Yangtze, China’s longest river, the local environmental bureau said on Tuesday.
As part of its efforts to improve compliance, China has been trying to make greater use of its court system to prosecute polluters, introducing new legislation, tougher punishments and environmental circuit courts to deal with rising case loads.
The Environmental Protection Department of Jiangsu said in a notice on its website that the Anhui Haide Chemical Technology Corporation was ordered by a court to pay a 55.1 million yuan ($8 million) fine on Monday for illegally disposing hazardous chemical waste.
In 2014, one of Haide’s sales officials entrusted two individuals to dispose of 102 tonnes of waste lye. The two did not possess the required disposal permits and dumped the waste directly into the river, the notice said.
The action polluted the river and forced authorities to cut off drinking water supplies in the city of Xinghua for more than 50 hours, the notice said.
While the two men were apprehended and given jail sentences, Jiangsu had to wait until new environmental compensation guidelines were introduced at the start of this year to take action against the company itself, it said.
The provincial government originally asked the court to impose damages of 37 million yuan, but the sum was deemed insufficient to cover the clean-up costs, the notice said.
This was the first time the new environmental compensation guidelines had been used by a local government to take legal action against polluters, it said.
Phone calls to Anhui Haide went unanswered.
Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Tom Hogue