18 Companies Violate Chinese Environmental Laws

Eighteen top multinationals and Chinese corporations are guilty of violating a Chinese environmental regulation on publishing pollution information, Greenpeace said.

BEIJING (Kyodo) -- Eighteen top multinationals and Chinese corporations, including Japanese automobile parts manufacturer Denso, are guilty of violating a Chinese environmental regulation on publishing pollution information in the first year of the law's implementation, a report by the environmental group Greenpeace said late Tuesday.

The companies are eight multinationals on the 2008 Fortune Global 500 rankings that include Denso, Shell and Samsung Electronics, and 10 Chinese companies listed on 2008's Fortune China 100 rankings, including local oil firm Sinopec and the Dongfeng Motor Group that has joint ventures with several Japanese auto makers, Greenpeace's report Silent Giants said.

The Chinese regulation, introduced in May last year, requires companies that exceed pollution discharge standards to publish their emissions data on a major media platform within 30 days of being reported by local environmental bureaus.

But the report said that none complied with the 30-day time limit, and only three eventually made public their pollution information, one of them a year after the 30-day timeline.

"It is shocking that these companies that are leaders in their respective industries did not even manage to obey the most basic environmental regulation in China," Ma Tianjie, senior campaigner for Greenpeace China, said in a statement accompanying the report.

Ma said the public had a right to know what companies are discharging into rivers and lakes in their communities, especially since two of the companies were caught using or discharging hazardous chemicals such as lead, cadmium and arsenic.

Strong regulation of environmental information disclosure has been "one of the most effective and low-cost policy tools" that helped reduce industrial pollution in countries such as the United States and Japan, the Greenpeace statement said.

The report concluded the violations by the 18 firms reflected local and international businesses' corporate noncompliance with Chinese environmental laws that was encouraged by weak enforcement by local authorities.

"Local governments must hold companies accountable for violating regulations -- they are virtually allowing these companies to disrespect the central government's policies," added Ma.

Environmental pollution in China is a serious spillover of the country's rapid economic growth exacerbated by weak local enforcement by authorities.

On Wednesday, state media reported that close to 1,000 children in Henan Province in central China had tested positive for excessive lead levels in their blood.

This followed reports of mass lead poisoning of children in other provinces in the country in recent months.

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