Interpretation For Criminal Cases of Environmental Pollution

by China Water Risk 18 June, 2013

18 June, 2013- Supreme People’s Court and Supreme People’s Procuratorate of China jointly made an interpretation for criminal cases of environmental pollution. The Administration of Public Security and Ministry of Environment were also present.

Difficulties and high costs associated with the collection of evidence had previously been a barrier for enforcement and conviction of environmental criminal cases. The new interpretation aims to update the standards and provide practical guidance. See the highlights below:

  1. More detailed, feasible and quantified standards: 14 criteria set for affirmation of “serious environmental pollution”; a clearer scope for “toxic substances” set, and substances such as mirex and dioxins are included this time;
  2. Stricter regulation for the specialized accreditation bodies and procedures;
  3. A lower threshold for conviction of environmental pollution crimes was set, that doesn’t require any impacts from a pollution incident, only evidence of the polluting behaviour, for a conviction;
  4. Severe punishment for those who illegally discharge toxic substances around/in hospitals and schools;
  5. Environmental pollution that leads to poisoning affecting more than 100 people will be taken as a serious incident;
  6. Eight scenarios can be identified as environmental regulatory dereliction which will be punished with no exceptions;
  7. Environmental Crimes conducted by a group/organization/company will be severely punished.

Four typical crimes were shown as examples:

  1. Illegal emission of acidic wastewater containing copper by Zijin Mining Group Co., Ltd. In 2006;
  2. Illegal emission of arsenic wastewater by Yunnan Chengjiang Jinye Industry and Trade Co., Ltd. from 2005 to 2008;
  3. Illegal emission of organic industrial waste water by Chongqing Changfeng Chemical Industrial Co., Ltd. in 2011;
  4. Illegal emission of benzene and phenols toxic wastewater by Yancheng Biaoxin Chemical Co., Ltd. from 2007 to 2009.

Read full version of the interpretation here (only in Chinese)