A Chinese court has agreed to hear a lawsuit filed by an environmental NGO seeking $US4.8-million in damages from an industrial polluter in Shandong province — thought to be the first public interest litigation for air pollution under China’s new environmental law. ChinaFile reports.
An environmental group has filed a lawsuit for 30 million yuan (U.S.$4.8 million) to seek compensation from a Shandong chemical company for pumping out harmful substances—a legal action thought to be the first public interest litigation for air pollution under China’s new environmental law.
On Wednesday, the Intermediate People’s Court in the Shandong city of Dezhou agreed to hear a lawsuit requesting compensation for air pollution from Dezhou Jinghua, which makes chemicals for use in the glass industry.
Victims of the smog that plagues many industrialized parts of China are unable to sue those responsible, due to the difficulty of calculating the amount of financial damages from air pollution.
The All-China Environmental Federation (ACEF), which brought the lawsuit, is basing the potential amount of damages on the offending company’s operating costs, in the hope this will provide a route to successful public interest litigation.
Ma Yong, deputy head of ACEF’s Environmental Legal Services Center, explained that such cases are indeed rare, due to difficulties in gathering evidence and assessing damages.
“Companies such as this, which refuse to change despite repeated warnings, can only be dealt with through the courts,” Ma said.
If awarded, the compensation would be paid to the Dezhou city government and earmarked for dealing with air pollution.