From March 16 - 19, CLAPV lawyers, Liu Yanping and Liu Jinmei, visited Minhou county in Fuzhou, Fujian to investigate a case brought by residents of Qingpuling village against the Fujian Provincial Solid Waste Management Company (hereinafter the Company) for air and water pollution.
The Company was established in 2000. It handles medical waste from Fuzhou and its surrounding area and other types of hazardous waste from the whole province. Such waste includes heavy metal waste, acid waste, alkali waste, mineral oil waste, and other chemical waste.
The provincial hazardous waste management site is located about 30 kilometers from Fuzhou city proper in Minhou county, Qingpuling (nature village). Annually it handles about 40,000 tons of waste. Planning of the site began in the 90s, when the government first invested in the project. Originally the Fujian provincial environmental protection bureau directly supervised it, but later supervision was passed to the Fujian waste management center.
For various reasons, the planners didnt strictly follow regulations on the evacuation and relocation of villagers living within a specified distance of the site during the construction of the project. Such failings created hidden dangers. In 2006, the site was sold to the Fuman Group, which would become the Fujian Province Solid Waste Management Company. Because it was located in a remote location and it wasnt effectively supervised, things like the protective distance surrounding the site and the quality of the equipment used were lacking. In recent years, everything from equipment to management and operations lags behind modern standards. Not only has it failed to keep its original "zero discharge" promise, but also various pollutants discharged by the site exceed standards. It has also evaded taxes and made contracts without authorization. Its relationship with the neighboring villagers became increasingly strained.
The company¡¯s illegal actions involving the solid waste management site include:
establishing industrial solid waste collection sites without authorization; transferring contracts for waste collection to unqualified parties without authorization; exceeding their collection scope; disposing of hazardous waste and burning it in excess loads; ignoring hidden dangers in their hazardous waste landfill; and failing to carry out environmental monitoring according to requirements. Furthermore, they are suspected of evading taxes.
Fujian department of environmental protection and the local Minhou county environmental protection bureau carried out law enforcement examination of the disposal site several times. On October 15, 2008, after onsite inspections the Minhou County Environmental Protection Bureau made several demands of the company, including implementing emissions reporting and online monitoring equipment. However, the company failed to respond to their demands. In September of 2009, the Fujian Provincial Environmental Protection Bureau issued the "Notice ordering the Fujian Solid Waste Management Company to rectify and reform existing problems." Additionally, on October 16, the relevant departments arrange talks with the responsible parties from the company. The charged the company with coming up with a detailed corrective plan and with assigning responsibilities for carrying out that plan, but again, the company failed to place adequate importance on the issue.
Provincial, city and county environmental protection bureaus all consecutively carried out on-site investigations. They determined that of the 10 items for reform that the company must complete before the given deadline, four were already completed or partially complete. On the other six, however, they had yet to make any substantive progress. On November 10, the Fujian Environmental Protection department convened another meeting. The minutes from the meeting demanded that the company increase is reform efforts and provide assurance that it would promote completion of the 10 items needing change mentioned above. At the same time, the basis of the meeting was a call to severely sanction the companys blatant disregard for the law.
February 8, 2010, the general office of the national Environmental Protection Bureau issued the "Supervisory notice regarding the investigation and prosecution of the Fujian Province Solid Waste Management Company for environmental violations." They also entrusted the Fujian Provincial Environmental Protection Bureau with overseeing the investigation and prosecution. In the course of this investigation, two people went to the site. They saw the impact that the pollution had had on the villagers fruit trees and experienced the pungent smoky smell downwind from the factory.
Because the topography of the mountainous region is fairly unusual and because the site is situated below the villagers homes, when garbage is incinerated at the site, its emissions do not dilute and disperse naturally. Instead, they drift directly to the villagers homes. Furthermore, because the site is upstream from the local water source, the site also poses a great danger to the water.
At present, the Center is actively working on this case.