PetroChina Sued by ACEF for Toxic Dumping
by China Water Risk 29 November, 2013
29 November 2013, the All-China Environment Federation (ACEF) filed a lawsuit against PetroChina for the illegal dumping of drilling wastewater in Jilin province. The violation was reported by CCTV two days earlier. ACEF has asked for of RMB 60.75 million (around US$ 10 million) to cover associated environmental damage.
See more here.
According to reports the wastewater is being dumped throughout the province in various sites; pits, open land and even by the roadside in some cases. In one village in Jilin locals say that on average 30 tankers a day will dump wastewater, each tanker with a 30-40 cubic meter capacity. The dumped wastewater is largely abandoned or minimally covered. This improper disposal is having serious effects on the environment and surrounding communities.
Consequences of Improper Disposal
Studies have shown that such wastewater has a negative impact on soil and ecosystems. Leeching and overflowing are common in Jilin, contaminating surrounding farming and woodland areas. Subsequently arable land has decreased, as has livestock populations. The land damage is long term with contamination lasting decades, preventing farmers from re-planting as their produce would not meet the national health standards.
There are also human health concerns, villagers report that the discharge has impacted ground water consequently contaminating their drinking water. Some villagers are having to travel long distances to a well deemed safe enough to source water for drinking or cooking. Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Science researcher Zhao Zhang Yuan adds that the discharge can contain carcinogens and so people in impacted areas are at higher risk for cancer.
It is uncertain if the court will take this case, it just officially accepted the materials for consideration.
In June this year a judicial interpretation made it clear that it is a criminal offence to improperly dispose of hazardous waste containing: heavy metals, organic pollutants and pollutants that harm human health.
In response to the lawsuit PetroChina has sent an investigative team to Jilin. Also, the director of the relevant plant has been dismissed. Meanwhile, ACEF has said that they have sufficient evidence to support their suit. Earlier in the year a draft amendment to the environmental law proposed ACEF as the sole legitimate body able to launch environment public interest litigation. The public has called this a step backwards in environmental legislation.
Zhao says that China is currently in a phase of oil extraction, which means that such contamination is quite common now.
See more here. (Chinese only)
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