The State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), the
nation's environment watchdog, recently ordered administrative
sanctions slapped on the Shanxi Zhenxing Group. They are alleged to
have committed numerous legal violations.
The environment watchdog issued their administrative sanctions
on July 24, charging that the company should discontinue building
two 200,000 kw thermal power generating sets. Without environmental
approval they may not resume construction in the future.
An insider from the environment watchdog agency told the
China Business News that the Zhenxing Group began
unapproved construction of the two thermal power-generating sets in
June 2004. Another unauthorized project of 100kt/a electrolytic
aluminum which begun in 1999 and went into operation in April 2002
was uncovered, compounding the existing problems. Residents around
the factory reported to the SEPA that the factory has greatly
jeopardized not only the environment but also public health. Weak
protective measures, combined with unmonitored fluorine discharges,
have been reported.
In January 2002 and February 2006 the SEPA sent two notices to
the Zhenxing Group, ordering it to halt construction in a bid to
address the issue. But as of July 2007, of the 82 illicit projects
listed by the EPA the Zhenxing Group's projects were still listed.
The Zhenxing Group had continued their projects despite the
On June 12, the State Environmental Protection Administration
imposed administrative sanctions ordering the project halted. The
company could have made an application for an environmental
appraisal, but the law permits appeals only within a seven-day
grace period of the date they are issued.
The Zhenxing Group is part of the Hejin Aluminum Zone, located
at the junction of the Yellow River and the Fenhe River in
southwest Shanxi Province. A sizeable, privately owned
but diverse enterprise, the Zhenxing Group mainly processes coal to
produce electricity and aluminum, among other things.
According to public statistics, with an investment of 6.8
billion yuan, the Zhenxing Group has achieved production capability
of 1.2 million tons of raw coal and 120,000 tons of electrolytic
aluminum. With an installed capacity of 120,000 kw, the group was
once named as a "national large-sized private-owned enterprise" and
"the highest yielding privately-owned enterprise."
Electrolytic aluminum is the foundation of the group. The two
planned 200,000 kw thermal power generating sets would facilitate
the production of electrolytic aluminum. Dedicated to making itself
a conglomerate of diversified production, the group's goal is an
estimated amount of profits and taxes of 10 billion yuan around
2010. In order to bolster the huge production, the group is
contemplating a technological update. Phase Two would be two 50,000
kw thermal power generating sets; Phase Three would be two 200,000
kw thermal power generating sets, with an installed capacity
capable of achieving 2.4 million kw in the near future.
Zhu Xingxiang, an official from the State Environmental
Protection Administration, told China Business News that
some power plants still start projects before obtaining official
approval. Even worse, some official government departments have
compromised on approval standards. Surveys at both the provincial
and municipal levels have revealed only 30 percent to 40 percent of
township enterprises have acted in ways adhering to the appraisals
regarding unsatisfactory environmental situations.
(China.org.cn by He Shan, July 30, 2007)