Environmental group claims nearly 4.85 million USD in China

An environmental group claims nearly 30 million yuan (4.85 million US dollars) to a glass factory in the first trial public interest of the country on pollution since laws giving NGOs the right to sue polluters took effect.

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The All-China Federation environment took its case against Zhenhua Co Ltd, a subsidiary of Shandong Jinghua Goup, the Intermediate People’s Court Thursday Dezhou, Beijing News reported yesterday.

The federation wants the plant, based in Dezhou, Shandong Province in eastern China, to stop issuing excessive pollutants, install air cleaning equipment and make a public apology.

The federation also asks 30 million yuan for environmental damage, with the money to be used in local cleanup projects.

The court will decide whether to accept the case within seven days.

Zhenhua was put on the blacklist of environmental authorities on several occasions.

Last October, the Ministry of Environmental Protection has criticized in a public statement, saying its glass factory gave high levels of harmful nitrogen oxides because of the lack of exhaust gas treatment facilities gas.

The plant has also been ordered to suspend one of its production lines and a fine of 150,000 yuan by the provincial department of environmental protection.

However, in January, the department tested yet excessive nitrogen oxides from the plant. “We punished three times, but it has not yet taken any measures to reduce emissions,” said a ministry statement.

Ma Yong, deputy director of the center of the legal department of the federation, said he began receiving complaints of residents earlier this year.

“They said they did not dare open the windows because of the smell,” said Ma. “And they say that their cars were covered in dust when parked outside.”

investigators from the Federation went to Dezhou and found justified complaints. They decided a lawsuit to defend the local residents, Ma said.

An unnamed official told the newspaper that the plant had taken remedial measures.

“Last year, we spent about 30 million yuan to install desulfurization devices. But we still need another 20 million yuan to buy denitration devices. And we have to borrow money, “he said.

“We do not want pollution” he added.

  Changes to environmental legislation, the first in 25 years, have been adopted in April 2014 and took effect on January 1. They said tougher penalties and allowed green groups to sue polluters. Chinese courts had previously rejected many trials because there was no framework to clarify who was eligible to pursue. The first case to be accepted under the new law was lodged by the Federation and Friends of the China Environment Nature on January 1st. They sued four Chinese mining executives, demanding they fund the restoration of a forest in its natural state, the Intermediate People’s Court of Nanping, Fujian Province southeast China. The four cleared about two hectares of forest on Hulu Mountain in 2008 to extract the granite. source   

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