fter news broke that a pharmaceutical company in Zhuzhou, Hunan had illegally dumped wastewater in the Xiangjiang River, the Zhuzhou county government removed the chief of its environmental protection agency Cao Tiexiang. It also ordered Zhuzhou Songben Pharmaceuticals Company to halt production.
Public trust in local environmental protection efforts will be hard to rebuild, a commentator says. It emerged that when residents had reported the dumping, authorities continually responded that they had found no evidence of it.
Writing for The Paper, commentator Xi Po says although the environmental protection agency should be held accountable, further investigation is needed to determine whether corruption led authorities to turn a blind eye to the behavior and whether other officials were involved.
Judging by the leeway given to the company and the mishandling of residents’ reports, it appears that the county government doesn't see environmental protection as a priority, Xi says. Moreover, the agency has long been understaffed and underfunded and has only one protection enforcement vehicle.