China's environmental watchdog has publicly criticised Guizhou's Liupanshui municipal government for concealing the severe pollution caused by its coal-chemical industry. The case was exposed by a special team investigating pollution in the city. A report issued by the State Environmental Protection Administration (Sepa) following investigations into water pollution in Guizhou, Jilin and Heilongjiang said it found extensive illegal operations in the provinces' power plants. The investigations ended last month. In Guizhou, the report said, 287 of 8,274 enterprises investigated had been penalised by mid-September. It said local governments not only failed to reach environmental protection targets, they also lied to inspectors. In Liupanshui, one senior official publicly denied the city had a coal-chemical industry or drinking-water problems. 'Our supervisors found that the coal-chemical industry was Liupanshui's key business. It has 32 coking enterprises,' a Sepa spokesman said in the report. 'All the pollution-prevention facilities at these factories have serious problems.' Facilities that look complete on the outside are often just facades to fool environmental inspectors, the report said. Local media said the senior official was one of the city's vice-mayors. Sepa said its team had severely criticised the official, but did not say whether anyone was punished. The report also said three power plants near Liupanshui had not been approved by the National Development and Reform Commission. 'The production facility of Anshun Power Plant [in Guizhou] is critically backwards; it cannot meet Sepa's environmental standards. 'Two generators in Qing Township Power Plant should be shut down according to our country's policy, but they are still in production,' the spokesman said. The report said deep-rooted protectionism in some regions was the key reason officials were unwilling to implement environmental protection regulations. In Jilin province, the Sepa team found local governments below the city level had turned a blind eye to many polluting factories being built on the upper reaches of rivers or drinking-water sources. It said the practice, known as 'boarding first, then buying a ticket' was common in Jilin. The report stressed local environmental departments failed to stop polluting industries in Jilin and Heilongjiang because factories - mostly government-backed - had blindly pursued economic benefits and ignored environmental regulations. In Jilin, steel factories refused to upgrade water-treatment facilities and continued to discharge effluent on farmland. The report said waste water discharged from leather, paper and milk industries in Heilongjiang did not meet environmental protection standards. In order to avoid local governments' interference in its anti-pollution supervision, Sepa said it would appoint another 15 vice-directors to 11 regional centres it set up in July to handle pollution accidents and environmental disputes. The extra officials represent a big step for Sepa in reaching its aim of strengthening its supervision.