China arrests 11 suspected of dumping tonnes of trash in Yangtze

Workers clear garbage on the banks of the Yangtze River in Taicang, Jiangsu, on Dec 23, 2016.
Workers clear garbage on the banks of the Yangtze River in Taicang, Jiangsu, on Dec 23, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Eleven suspects from Zhejiang province who made nearly 800,000 yuan (S$167,000) from illegally dumping more than 2,900 metric tonnes of household waste into the Yangtze River in neighbouring Jiangsu province have been captured by police.

Police in Zhejiang's Jiaxing city said on Sunday (Dec 25) after a preliminary investigation that one dumping case occurred on Dec 8, when more than 900 tonnes of garbage was dumped from a ship into the river in Nantong city.

Another occurred on Dec 17, when over 2,000 tonnes of garbage was dumped in the river by two ships in Taicang city, according to police.

One man, who drove a floating crane to help the ships dump the waste into the river, was involved in both cases.

Police said that in the first case, Chuangjie Sanitation Equipment, a qualified garbage transportation company in Tongxiang, had been approved by the environmental sanitation management office in Haining to transport household waste to garbage incineration plants in Jiangsu and Anhui provinces for disposal since mid-September. The company was paid 263 yuan for each tonne of waste. Both Tongxiang and Haining are part of Jiaxing.

But at the end of November, the company signed a contract to sell nearly 1,000 tonnes of garbage to a man surnamed Zhu for 200 yuan per tonne. On the night of Dec 8, the garbage was dumped into the river after it was loaded onto a cargo ship arranged by Zhu.

The second case showed similarities. Tianshun Garbage Transportation in Tongxiang had been approved by the environmental sanitation management office in Haiyan county to transport household waste to incineration plants in Anhui for disposal since May 25. The company was paid 277 yuan per tonne of waste.

On Oct 21 and 22, the company sold more than 2,000 tonnes of garbage to a man surnamed Yang for about 160 yuan per tonne. Yang then directed two cargo ships to transport the garbage, with the waste being dumped into the river on the night of Dec 17.

"The dumping started at 9 pm and continued until 4 am the next day because of the large amount of the garbage," the police said.

The incidents forced water intake from the Yangtze River in Taicang to be suspended over the weekend as a significant amount of garbage, including plastic bags, slippers, vegetable leaves and condoms, were seen floating on the surface of the water, China Central Television reported on Sunday (Dec 25).

Taicang's information office said the cleanup could last for a week.

Industry insiders suggested tighter supervision of garbage transporters.

"There should be records detailing the amount of garbage transported every day and its whereabouts," said head Kong Ling of Shanghai Huanyu Sanitation, a certified transporter of household, industrial and building waste.