Thursday, 14 May 2009

Polluters Prefer Paying Fines to Cleaning up their Act (2000)

Polluters Prefer Paying Fines to Cleaning up Their Act

Despite being reported on for acts of illegal polluting and receiving fines from China's Ministry of Environmental Protection, some enterprises still display wanton disregard, preferring to pay fines instead of reducing harmful emissions. In the city of Fuyang, in Zhejiang province, the policy of monetary incentives for snitching on polluters becomes a vicious circle.
Last June, Fuyang was the first city in China to launch a campaign of awarding monetary incentives to individuals reporting incidents of illegal polluting and its anti-polluting hotline has been busy ever since. In the first half of this year, Fuyang's Municipal environmental protection hotline centre received 427 reports, investigated and handed out fines in 210 of those cases, and distributed ¥170,000 RMB (approx. $31,482 Cdn. funds) in reward money.
Oddly enough, these efforts still seem to have had no effect in terms of curtailing the problem and enterprises have repeatedly increased the amount of pollutants they discharge. To date, the city has 316 paper mills, a third of which are small enterprises. Many of them have already been reported on and subsequently fined as many as seven or eight times.
So why is the system of rewards for reporting polluters failing to prevent illegal polluting activity? According to reliable sources, a paper mill with a daily discharge of 1 000 tonnes of water would have to pay ¥50 RMB (Cdn.$ 9.26) per tonne to eliminate pollutants. This would increase such a company's overhead by 50,000 RMB (Cdn. $ 9,259) per day while fines for illegal polluting in Fuyang range from ¥5,000 to ¥30,000 RMB (Cdn $925.90-$5,555.55). Thus, the cost of implementing pollution controls for these enterprises is much higher than the cost of fines for the illegal dumping of toxins. As a result, many would rather pay fines than clean up their act.

Zhang Chunxia (Yangcheng Evening News 2000-07-17) Trans. Chris Harry