Assisted Parties: Huang Jianxin
Parties Being Sued: Environmental Protection Bureau of Suzhou, Jiangsu Province
Huang Jianxin is a villager of Hongqiao village in Jinfeng town, Zhangjiagang city. The Hexing Water Treatment Plant (the ¡°Hexing Plant¡±) of Zhangjiagang is located in Huang¡¯s village; the distance from his residence is less than 60 meters. In 2002, the Hexing Plant was built and went into operation. While in use, the plant produces large amounts of noise pollution, wastewater, and waste gas that seriously pollutes the surrounding environment. This pollution also affects Huang¡¯s daily life. As a result, Huang sued the Environmental Protection Bureau of Suzhou (the ¡°EPB¡±) for failure to carry out its duties to publicly disclose government information, bringing an administrative case in the Canglang District of the Suzhou People¡¯s Court. At the hearing, the EPB acknowledged that the Hexing Plant not only lacked an Environmental Impact Assessment (¡°EIA¡±) at the time it was founded, but up to the present it also had not submitted an EIA report. Huang believed that the EPB did not carry out to the greatest extent possible its legal duties to investigate and supervise, constituting administrative inaction, and thus brought suit. Huang requested the court to find the EPB¡¯s conduct in violation and to take measures to protect and maintain his legal rights and benefits. Upon receiving his complaint via hotline, the Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims (¡°CLAPV¡±) believed that the EPB did not carry out its legal duties to supervise and manage polluting companies, resulting in the Hexing Plant¡¯s long-term emission of pollution into the surrounding environment. CLAPV decided to represent Huang in his litigation.
Significance of Case Assistance and Effectiveness:
According to relevant Chinese law, every level of government is responsible for its local environment, and specifically, the local departments of environmental protection bear responsibility. This case can be considered a classic example of the responsible environmental protection department¡¯s urging companies to engage in lawful production and emissions through execution of its oversight duties. Volunteer lawyers investigated and provided factual proof that: Hexing Plant was registered as a business; the volume of its business, balance sheets, and income statements indicated that it objectively existed and was in normal operation; the defendant EPB disregarded this objective fact; the defendant clearly knew that the company had not passed an EIA; and the defendant ignored that the company was illegally producing emissions and polluting the surrounding environment. This case carries great significance as a warning. It cautions administrative bodies that carry out their legal duties in a lazy or careless manner that pollution victims will haul them into court; it urges local environmental protection departments to adhere closely to their legal duties; and it takes an aggressive stride towards strengthening the legally-imposed responsibility to a given area¡¯s environmental quality.