A top official of a leading state-run chemical company in southwest China recently resigned for what was the "most serious water pollution" case in the country, according to the provincial authorities of Sichuan.
Xie Muxi, president of Sichuan Chemicals Group and chairman of its subsidiary Sichuan Chemicals Co. Ltd., was found having "neglected his supervisory duties" as the chief leader in the pollution mishap that affected about one million local people and would "apologize" to those affected.
Another five officials of the company, all held responsible for the disaster, have been handed over to judicial authorities for prosecution, said Ou Zegao, secretary for the Politics and Law Commission of the Sichuan Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
Before Xie's resignation came the fine of one million yuan (US$120,000) imposed on the company for the "large-scale" pollution of the Tuojiang River, a major tributary to China's longest Yangtze River.
The pollution caused days of water supply cutoff for over one million residents downstream early this year, according to the Environmental Protection Bureau of Sichuan Province.
Sichuan Chemicals Co. Ltd. was the province's largest chemical producer based in Qingbaijiang District in Chengdu, the provincial capital.
The company put into operation on Feb. 11 its sewage processing facilities, part of its technological innovation programs, without legally required appraisal procedures by the environmental authorities.
Moreover, its second chemical fertilizer plant failed to run sewage processing equipment between Feb. 11 and March 2 because of machinery malfunction, discharging unprocessed huge amount of waste water with high content of nitrogen and ammonia into the river, according to the investigation.
The company did not report the accident to environmental authorities in a timely manner and took no effective measures to deal with aftermath, leading to damages to the ecology of the river, apart from large-scale water supply cutoff at the river's middle and lower reaches.
After the scandal was unveiled, the joint investigation was launched by authorities including the CPC Sichuan Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Provincial Bureau of Supervision, the Provincial Procuratorate and the Provincial Public Security Bureau. According to the conclusion based on the investigation, six parties should take responsibility for the tragical accident, including the company itself, three local environment overseeing agencies, the local water bureau and the local government of Qingbaijiang District.
Leaders of the relevant parties will also receive punishment according to results of judicial investigations that are underway, according to Ou.
The provincial government is reviewing compensation solutions for those affected in the pollution case, Ou said.
(Xinhua News Agency May 8, 2004)