Unilever fined over pollution

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 September, 2007, 12:00am

Unilever (China) has been penalised for discharging substandard waste water, state media reported, in what appears to be a toughening stance against foreign-owned offenders.

The State Environmental Protection Administration (Sepa) yesterday said the multinational's factory in Hefei, Anhui, was found in May to be discharging waste water with an amount of COD - chemical oxygen demand - that breached the permissible level.

The company, which manufactures well-known household brands such as Dove, Lux, Kellogg's and Lipton, was fined 100,000 yuan and ordered to remedy the situation.

'Be they domestic or foreign-invested, all enterprises must comply with China's environmental laws and regulations. Our supervision treats all enterprises by the same standard,' Sepa was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

Unilever is not the only foreign company feeling the heat as Beijing tries to prove its determination to tackle water pollution. It was announced last week that Hitachi Construction Machinery (China) in Hefei had been penalised for the same offence. Sepa confirmed that both companies had taken steps to rectify the problems.

In the case of Unilever, the pipe suspected of carrying the substandard water has been disabled, a COD monitor has been installed, water treatment facilities have been upgraded and the factory has joined a monitoring network with the provincial and local environmental agencies.

The head of the environmental watchdog said at a separate forum yesterday that water pollution remained a serious problem and standards had to be raised to prevent new projects from polluting lakes and rivers, according to Xinhua.

All projects that would lead to the discharge of heavy metals or organic pollutants into rivers and lakes being rehabilitated would be rejected in the next 10 years, Sepa director Zhou Shengxian said. So would projects that discharged nitrous or phosphorous substances into closed or semi-closed bodies of water, he said.