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More Supervision Needed for Outsourcing Environmental Monitoring and Protection

Third-party environmental inspection firms are often complicit in falsifying reports and covering up malpractice, says researcher

By Zhang Qingchen Updated May.16

After a devastating explosiong at a chemical plant in Xiangshui County, Jiangsu Province, that killed 78 people in March, the State Council, China’s Cabinet, established a special working group to investigate. During the process, 17 suspects who worked in third-party environmental service institutions and allegedly made false environmental evaluations have been criminally charged, China Youth Daily reported. 

Polluting industries hire these third-party firms to deal with pollution discharges, and the firms also plays an important role in making evaluations about how pollution can affect local environments, monitoring the environment and pollution and other fields about pollution control and ecological restoration.  

Yet, not all third-party institutions can shoulder the responsibilities. Some made false environmental reports for inflated fees, He Zhen, a researcher at the Institute for the Development of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics at Southeast University, wrote on China Youth Daily. 

Currently, State and local legislatures have made clear stipulations about the liability of third-party environmental protection service institutions. But the regulations are poorly implemented.

He suggested clarifying the criteria for the identification of fraudulent acts by third-party organizations. There are three signs of malpractice. First, the agencies, knowing that materials provided by clients are false and therefore produce seriously false evaluation documents, still fabricate participants' information and falsify comments from public opinion. Third-party agencies can tamper with monitoring data or conceal the fact, and maintenance agencies intentionally fail to operate or abnormally operate monitoring equipment. 

The supervision mechanism involving the participation of the government, investors and the public should be improved, He said. It is also necessary to seriously look into liabilities of third-party institutions. All unlawful environmental acts should be punished.