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SEPA: polluters face heavy fines
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Enterprises will face a fine as high as 500,000 yuan (US$ 67,467) if they are caught discharging highly poisonous liquid waste into waters, according to the Administrative Measures on the Prevention of Drinking Water Source Pollution (Draft) released by the State Environmental Protection Administration on November 22, 2007.

According to the Administrative Measures, any enterprise or individual who suffers loss or damage due to pollution of a drinking water source has the right to seek legal remedy and compensation from the responsible party. Meanwhile, the State is working hard to promote the establishment of an ecological compensation system for various drinking water sources. Relevant government departments will work together to draw up a detailed plan in this regard.

At the current stage, major drinking water sources will be divided into two areas: first-class conservation area and second-class conservation area. If necessary an auxiliary conservation area will also be set up outside the drinking water source. Markers should be installed at conspicuous locations to show the boundaries of each conservation area.

In these conservation areas, anyone who illegally discharges highly poisonous liquid waste into waters, anyone who illegally discharges, dumps or buries highly poisonous soluble waste residues such as mercury, cadmium, arsenic, chromium, lead, cyanide and yellow phosphorus under the ground, and anyone who illegally discharges or dumps poisonous waste waters and waste residues into seepage pits, cracks and limestone caves, will face a severe fine ranging between 50,000 yuan (US$2,701.43) and 500,000 yuan.

Additionally, any discharge or dumping of industrial waste residues, domestic garbage and other wastes into waters is strictly prohibited in drinking water sources. Those who violate the regulation in auxiliary conservation areas will face a fine ranging between 20,000 yuan (US$2,701.43) and 200,000 yuan (US$26,986). Anyone who violates the regulation in first-class or second-class conservation areas will face a fine ranging between 50,000 yuan and 200,000 yuan.

Previously, the SEPA has adopted a draft regulation on the prevention of water pollution, which also contains rules to remedy and compensate for losses and damages incurred by water pollution. However, a staff member from the country's top environment watchdog yesterday told the Beijing Times that specific standards have not yet been established to calculate compensation.

To ensure the effective implementation of these draft regulations, supplementary measures should also be put into place, such as effective methods to identify the victim suffering from pollution, a way to measure the seriousness of the case and perimeters to calculate the physical and mental damages incurred by pollution. "This is a complicated project. We need to establish more rules and regulations to ensure the implementation of these Administrative Measures," said the SEPA staff member.

Any suggestions to the new measures would be warmly welcomed. Opinions may be sent to SPEA at lv.chunsheng@sepa.gov.cn prior to November 30, 2007.

(China.org.cn by Chen Xia, November 23, 2007)

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