China Environmental News Digest

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Deputies demand action on heavy-polluting State-owned tire factory in Guangzhou

By Zhan Lisheng (China Daily)

Updated: 2007-01-30 07:17

GUANGZHOU: Several deputies to Guangzhou's ongoing people's congress challenged officials at the city's environmental protection bureau and State-assets administration this weekend to explain why no action had been taken to address the large amounts of pollution caused by a State-owned tire-maker located in the city.

All the deputies were from the city's Panyu District, where the South China Tire Rubber Co Ltd, one of the country's largest tire suppliers, is located.

They demanded to know why the plant had not reduced the amount of pollution it produced and why no timetable had been set for the plant's relocation despite the numerous appeals made over the past decade.

They said the company had been emitting large amounts of sulfurous gas ever since it started operating in 1991, affecting the health of an estimated 100,000 people.

"The municipal environmental watchdog has promised on several occasions to draw up a timetable for the relocation, but to no avail," said Yang Jinglian, one of the deputies.

In response, Li Xin, deputy director of the environmental protection bureau, said the company's emissions met the national standard.

"We examined the company 21 times in 2006 and did not find excessive pollution," the official said. "What has been irritating people is the terrible smell."

Li said the number of complaints involving the company had declined in recent years, from 86 in 2004 to 66 in 2005, and down to 40 last year.

The deputies also challenged the State-assets administration, which owns a majority stake in the enterprise.

In response, Chen Xiongqiao, deputy director of the State-assets administration, said South China Tire Rubber had spent about 60 million yuan ($7.69 million) on environmental protection since 2005.

He added that the pollution problem had become less serious.

Chen said the authorities would have to approach the relocation plan with caution because the company is a major tax-payer and an important supplier of tires for Guangzhou's auto industry.

South China Tire Rubber paid more than 100 million ($12.82 million) yuan in taxes last year.

However, Chen's answer aroused many complaints among the deputies.

"We don't need GDP for blood," they said. "100 million yuan is a very trivial amount compared with the city's GDP of over 600 billion yuan ($76.92 billion) and is nothing compared with the health of the citizens."

No officials accepted the challenge to set a timetable to relocate the plant during the exchange.

The deputies said they would pursue the case as long as they were deputies and that they hoped the city government would put the issue on its agenda.

"They should also take more effective measures to deal with the pollution before the company is relocated," they said.

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