Southern Mongolia: Industrially Produced Chemical Waste Threatens Health and Environment
The Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection published a report denouncing the hazardous practice of environmental pollution by chemical firms. Moreover, the illegal discharge of polluted wastewater in the Tengger Dessert has been fined. Nevertheless, the lack of environmental awareness may have hazardous consequences for the environment and the health of its inhabitants.
With environmental awareness on the rise in China, tackling pollution has become a necessary task for many local factories. Treatment is still quite primitive in many cases, however, as shown in the use of pools for storing pollutants by five firms in Ningxia, Inner Mongolia and Shaanxi, according to caixin.com.
Shilin Chemical Factory, a producer of methanol extracted from coal in Ordos, Inner Mongolia has six giant waste pools on its premises that give off a vile stench of rotten eggs which seriously affects residents in the area. A herdsman living nearby blames the pools for the lung problems that have afflicted his mother and young son.
Such waste pools at chemical factories have mushroomed in Ningxia, Inner Mongolia and Shaanxi, using unassuming names such as "drying and sun-exposure pools."
The five firms and their hazardous practices have been described along with eight other polluting enterprises in a report on environmental offenses announced by the Ministry of Environmental Protection on 13th February 2015.
Many chemical firms have built such pools for depositing chemical waste in the name of pollutant-treatment facilities, in order to meet the zero-emission requirement of regulators.
Caixin reports that such chemical waste pools have polluted groundwater, seriously threatening the health of local residents. The website cites the example of the Qinhua Wusitai Chemical factory in Inner Mongolia, whichhas two chemical waste pools each as large as a soccer field on its premises. The water is dark blue and covered with a thick layer of grease, emitting a nauseating foul odor.
A company in Gansu province that discharged waste water in the Tengger Desert has been shut down and fined 3 million yuan ($484,000), officials have revealed.
Two managers at the Ronghua Industry & Trade Company in Wuwei city were detained amid nationwide efforts to impose tougher punishments on polluters.
The company discharged more than 83,000 metric tons of untreated water in the desert through a concealed conduit between May 28, 2014, and March 6, according to a statement released by the city's government on Saturday. The polluted area is 23 kilometers east of the city and covers 18 hectares.
Most of the waste water has been collected and transferred to sewage treatment plants, and the remaining pollution will be dealt with later.
Ronghua Industry & Trade moved to a site in the city's Liangzhou district and started producing cornstarch and glutamic acid there in May last year. However, the equipment needed to prevent and control pollution was not installed when the plant started operating.
The company was ordered to suspend production, and the concealed conduit was removed. In addition to the fine, it had to pay a pollution discharge fee of more than 180,000 yuan, the statement said.
The company's chairman has been investigated for allegedly polluting the environment, and officials at the district and city governments have been suspended.
The statement said the company had ignored the need to protect the environment, and the environmental protection authorities neglected their supervisory duties, a Xinhua News Agency report said on Saturday.
The desert stretches across Gansu, the Ningxia Hui autonomous region and the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, and the case is the second involving the illegal discharge of waste water there.
In August 2014, several pits containing liquid waste were found, and the companies responsible were punished and ordered to move away from the area. Twenty-four officials at environmental protection bureaus in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region were suspended.
Chang Jiwen, deputy director of the Research Institute of Resources and Environment Policies at the State Council Development Research Center, said, "Companies discharge pollutants illegally because they want to pursue huge profits."
He said the companies failed to install equipment to control pollution, a move that slashed their costs.
"Lax supervision by the authorities is also a major factor behind illegal discharges," added Chang, who gave lectures to environmental protection officials in Gansu two weeks ago.
The Ministry of Environmental Protection has ordered watchdogs at different levels to implement the revised Environmental Protection Law fully to control pollution through regular rigorous inspections this year.