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Tuesday, August 20, 2019, 11:53
Ministry says mining plants used tricks to mask violations
By Li Hongyang
Tuesday, August 20, 2019, 11:53 By Li Hongyang

Potted plants are used to disguise degraded land as green land at a mineral mine in Zhangpu, Fujian province, in July. (PHOTO / CHINA DAILY)

Mining plants in Fujian province have used potted plants to disguise degraded land as green land, covered polluted water with soil, and used green nets to cover mining areas from satellite monitoring to evade environmental inspections, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment said in a statement released on Monday.

So far, about 680 hectares in the county, including farmland and forests, have been ecologically destroyed

Some mining plants refused to improve facilities to protect the environment and kept damaging green lands even after being inspected and receiving warnings from the government. Instead, they used various ways to hide their problems, the ministry said.

After rechecking some plants in Guizhou and Fujian province in July, the ministry said inspectors found that such cheating methods, along with the severe damage caused by the pollution, are "rarely seen".

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In Zhangpu county of Zhangzhou city in Fujian, the then ministry of land and resources discovered that 31 mining sites were operating illegally, accounting for 10.9 percent of the province's illegal mining spots in 2017.

So far, about 680 hectares in the county, including farmland and forests, have been ecologically destroyed. The county government's document said it planned to treat only 8 hectares by 2025.

Some of the plants are accused of cheating to evade checks from the central government.

For example, on July 19, the inspection team found that a construction company in Zhangpu had placed potted plants and turf on concrete or sandy ground to disguise them as green lands.

They also found that a quarry in the county was mining illegally, and to escape satellite monitoring it covered the extraction site with green nets.

In addition, stone processing plants there had for years discharged sewage directly into fish ponds, farmland and forests and covered them with soil to pass inspection checks in 2017.

After the ministry's first inspection in 2017 in Zhangpu, the provincial government ordered the county to protect the ecology and environment. Later, the county received at least three warnings from governments at the provincial and municipal levels, but no real action was taken, the statement said.

In July, another central inspection team in Tianzhu county, Qiandongnan Miao and Dong prefecture in Guizhou province, also found a failure to improve facilities in a chemical plant.

Tianzhu Chemical Company in the county doesn't have a facility capable of dealing with hazardous waste caused by barium. As a result, the waste leaked into the soil.

The team checked the facility in 2017 and 2018, and fines were handed down by the local environment department. But despite the fines, the latest round of inspections still found that the company has more than 12 times the standard barium leakage.

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"These companies don't have a sense of responsibility for environmental protection or awareness of the central government's inspection work," the ministry said in its statement.

It urged local governments to enhance their capacity to fine those who are accountable for pollution and environmental damage.

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