Finally, Beijing is holding someone accountable for its smothering smog problem — a worker at a local heating company.
The worker surnamed Zhao was detained on Monday over “suspected malpractice that had resulted in excess emission of pollutants in the air,” according to ECNS. He becomes the first person to ever be put behind bars in Beijing for causing air pollution under an environmental protection law which went into effect in 2015.
Earlier this month, investigators found that a boiler at a heating company in Mentougou District was releasing 10 times more sulfur dioxide into the air than it was supposed to under environmental standards because Zhao had “violated relevant procedures,” causing a desulfurization facility to stop working entirely.
In China, administrative detention can last for up to 15 days. It’s not clear how long Zhao will spend behind bars.
Meanwhile, the unnamed heating supply company itself has been fined an undisclosed sum and ordered to rectify its business after investigators found that it had tried to evade supervision.
While a new tougher environmental protection law went into effect in China at the start of 2015, this is the first time that the environmental protection authority has detained someone for air pollution. It’s a hallmark case for Beijing’s “smog squad” which was established in January to clean up the city’s skies by cracking down on open-air barbecues and rubbish fires.
It also follows a speech made by Premier Li Keqiang kicking off China’s annual legislative meetings in Beijing in which he vowed to “make our skies blue again.” Unfortunately, this might turn out to be tougher than he thought, thanks to melting arctic ice.
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