NGOs challenge environment authorities

Five green NGOs have sent a letter to China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection calling for an overhaul of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) system for construction projects after an “A grade” was awarded to a waste-incineration project in a report believed to include false data.

The letter, which was jointly submitted by environmental organisations located in Chaoyang district of Beijing – Green Beagle, EnviroFriends Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, Global Village of Beijing, Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs and Green Earth Volunteers – claims that the EIA reports conducted by the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences (CAMS) involved serious problems such as “false public feedback”.

They called for the rejection of a grade A environmental impact assessment given by the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences (CAMS) to the Sujia Tuo waste-incineration project, as well as the imposition of penalties on CAMS according to state regulations. They also urged the government to reform the EIA system for construction projects in order to prevent similar situations from occurring again.

The letter stated that, since November 19, 2010, the plan to build renewable energy power plants inthe Haidian industrial park in Beijing has caused concern among several environmental organisations. After investigating the proposed site for the Sujia Tuo waste-incineration plant, the NGOs found that the environmental impact assessmentwhich was conducted by CAMSincluded “falsified public feedback”. Other incorrect information was also found, for instance, “the waste treatment plant built in Haidian district” mentioned in the report did not exist. The five environmental organisations all questioned the credibility of the EIA job done by the authority.

On June17, Green Beagle sent a letter to Beijing Haidian District People’s Government and relevant committee urging the replacement of CAMS as the EIA agency of the Sujia Tuo waste-incineration project. They said: “The EIA report conducted by CAMS included questionable information and there was a huge difference between the public feedback mentioned in the report and the findings of the environmental NGOs.”

Prior to this incident, the Environmental Protection Bureau of Hebei Province revoked the EIA report of another waste-incineration project at western Qinhuangdao, which was carried out by CAMS on May 27, as it too included “fabricated public feedback”.

The environmental groups advise the Ministry of Environmental Protection to investigate CAMS for violations in its management of EIA reports and to suspend it from participating in other EIA reports during the investigation. 

At the same time, the letter calls for active public participation in environmental impact assessments of construction schemes, particularly from non-governmental environmental groups. Where a project will impact the community on a large scale, a public hearing should be held, the letter says. Through disclosing information to public and encouraging public participation in the assessment process, it is hoped that similar incidents can be avoided.