China slaps US $125,000 fine on Jilin Petrochemical

Published: Wednesday 28 February 2007

China's top environment watchdog has slapped the state's maximum possible fine of 1 million yuan (us $125,000) on Jilin Petrochemical for a toxic river spill that cut off water to millions of people in the region. Jilin Petrochemical is a subsidiary of the country's biggest oil producer PetroChina Company Limited.

Under the Chinese law, the State Environmental Protection Agency (sepa) found the company guilty of contravening the Environmental Protection Law and two articles of the law on Prevention and Control of Water Pollution, notes the state media Xinhua. An explosion at the company's chemical plant in November 2005 had killed eight people and released about 100 tonnes of carcinogenic chemicals into the river Songhua.

The river flows across the country's northeast border into Russia. China initially tried to hush up the news of disaster, but later cut off water supplies to people in the downstream of regional capital Harbin for five days and launched a massive clean-up operation. The incident triggered the resignation of China's former environmental chief Xie Zhenhua, and at PetroChina, 10 executives had received demerits on their personal record.

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