Following recent waste dumping, police in Shanxi, China are investigating potential bribes taken by village officials to protect the source of pollution. Officials may have also bullied local protestors.
The investigation was prompted by a China Central Television report that offered an outline of the pollution perpetrator, Shanxi Sanwei Group, a state-owned chemical company in the city’s Hongtong county.
The company is accused of transporting solid waste, including fly ash and carbide slag, and dumping the material into a pit without taking the necessary precautions to prevent it from spreading further into the environment. Residents’ homes are as close to 100 meters from the pit, and if the waste materials were spread through air or water, detrimental health effects may be felt.
Beyond the materials dumped into the pit, the company is also suspected of discharging industrial wastewater into the Fenhe River, a major tributary of the Yellow River.
Citizens, who requested to remain anonymous, claim that such incidents have led to significant pollution throughout the village, also claiming that officials had executed secret dealings with representatives of the company, agreeing to discreetly remove the various wastes in return for personal benefits. Some also claim that villagers who were outwardly critical of the incidents were intimidated or physically assaulted.
In opposition, a representative from the company claims that such reports have been exaggerated, declaring that the discharged wastewater was compliant with national standards.
Two of the accused officials have been placed on 15-day administrative leave as a result, and at least six further individuals are currently being investigated.