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Province Stiffens Fines on Polluters
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Fines imposed by the southern province of Guangdong against enterprises breaking environmental protection laws have exceeded 100 million yuan (US$12.82 million) for the first time.

Fines last year totaled 115 million yuan.

Guangdong investigated more enterprises breaking environmental protection laws last year, according to a recent report by the Guangdong environment protection bureau.

The bureau shut down more than 2,100 local enterprises for causing serious pollution problems in the province, and issued deadlines to more than 8,200 others for rectification.

It vetoed 4,332 projects that failed to meet environmental protection requirements, and investigated and punished 680 construction companies.

"To better protect the environment, Guangdong has increased its fines," the report said.

As an example, Shaoguan smeltery received a fine of 1.2 million yuan last year, the heaviest ever imposed on a single enterprise in the country.

Dongguan Fu'an textile printing and dyeing factory was also heavily punished with a fine of 210,000 yuan, plus an extra sewage processing fee of 11.55 million yuan.

"Increased costs (fines) will force enterprises to better behave themselves," said a law enforcement officer with the Guangdong environment protection bureau said.

The bureau's management said at a conference recently that Guangdong would "step up efforts in 2007 to punish enterprises that discharge pollutants illegally by raising fines substantially".

The announcement was applauded by environmentalists and experts.

"Guangdong has lagged other economically developing provinces in the imposition of fines... hence law enforcement has not been as effective," they said.

"Zhejiang province for instance, despite its GDP lagging Guangdong's, imposed environmental protection fines totaling 285 million yuan in 2006.

"The average fine for each case was 28,000 yuan, far exceeding Guangdong's average of 17,000 yuan.

"Guangdong's needs to further strengthen its enforcement of environmental protection laws at country and district levels," they said.

Guangdong is planning to form teams to clean up polluted areas and charge the enterprise responsible, a source close to the province's environment protection bureau told China Daily.

"It will also confiscate the assets of any illegal enterprise in the waste business," the source said.

(China Daily April 26, 2007)

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