Hebei polluters fined millions of yuan

Hebei Province has fined waste water treatment plants tens of millions yuan for polluting the environment.

Six plants were ordered to pay nearly 20.48 million yuan ($3.3 million) in total as punishment for discharging excessive pollutants.

A plant in Zaoqiang County was ordered to pay more than 6.8 million yuan, the highest fine among the six, for not taking corrective measures after being asked to, according to the Hebei Provincial Environmental Protection Department.

The five other plants are in Chengde, Zhangjiakou, Langfang, Cangzhou, and Hengshui.

A further two plants, in Cangzhou City, were also punished with penalties ranging from tens of thousands of yuan to millions.

Fines are accumulated on a daily basis based on a new national Environmental Protection Law, which took effect on Jan.1.

According to the legislation - dubbed the most severe environmental protection law so far - if an enterprise refuses to or does not correct a polluting operation after being asked to it will be further punished by being fined multiple times the penalty initially imposed.

This is Hebei’s first order since the law took effect.

“This will become a normal action in Hebei,” said Yang Yongjie, from the Hebei environmental law enforcement supervision department, adding that the punishment has greatly increased enterprises’ costs.

Yang said “the accumulated fine” will force enterprises to operate in accordance with the law.

In addition to fines, administrative punishment will also handed down to related responsible people, Yang said.

Hebei has spent 1.05 million yuan on installing remote automatic inspection systems at 210 wastewater treatment plants.

Since launching inspections at the start of the year, Hebei has investigated and prosecuted more than 300 cases with more than 400 people punished.

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