China cracks down on toxic waste

BEIJING • China plans to carry out nationwide inspections targeting the illegal transfer and dumping of waste that damages water resources and soil, the environmental watchdog said as Beijing launches a new front in its years-long war on pollution.

News of the crackdown came as mayors of seven cities were summoned to a meeting at the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) in Beijing yesterday to account for their cities' failure to tackle the problem following recent inspections.

The ministry ordered them to submit plans within a month to improve their systems for disposing of chemical, oil, medical, animal and other waste, and to step up scrutiny of firms spewing toxic refuse.

"Local authorities have been focused only on air pollution and water pollution and have not paid attention to waste disposal," Mr Zhou Zhiqiang, a senior official with the MEE, said at the briefing.

The illegal disposal and storage of dangerous waste has become a widespread issue among chemical producers with reported cases more than doubling between 2015 and this year, the ministry said.

Plans for sweeping checks mark a shift in focus for the environmental watchdog as it expands its reach beyond curbing emissions from heavy industrial sectors.

It also comes after state media reported a firm in Lianyungang, a major chemical and refining hub in the eastern province of Jiangsu, was illegally dumping its waste water. At least six listed companies have since halted operations due to a crackdown following the report.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 12, 2018, with the headline 'China cracks down on toxic waste'. Print Edition | Subscribe