Suspected Illegal Construction of Coal Chemical Plants in northwest China

Press release - 2016-01-26
Greenpeace, Beijing 14 Sept 2015 – A Greenpeace East Asia investigation has revealed evidence that 15% of all modern coal chemical projects currently under construction, or 8 out of 53, are likely proceeding without the required permission from the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP). The eight offending projects are all located in arid and environmentally fragile regions of northwest China.

“Coal chemical companies in western China are acting as if they have been given the green light to exploit the region’s riches. In fact, sometimes their operations are clearly illegal and pose a huge risk to an already delicate environment,” said Head of Climate and Energy Campaign, Li Yan. “While it’s encouraging that policies aim to apply ‘the strictest environmental standards’ in the coal chemical industry, after a series of pollution scandals, such blatant disregard of the law will have to be tackled first.”

The investigation shows:

  • Eight coal chemical projects currently under construction in China are suspected to be proceeding without the required approval from the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
  • These projects are all large scale projects, located in Xinjiang (3), Inner Mongolia (3), Shaanxi (1) and Shanxi (1).
  • In July 2015 the Environmental Impact Assessment report of the Yili-Xintian project in Xinjiang and the Lu’an project in Shanxi were denied approval by the MEP, a prerequisite for construction. Before this decision had been made, the Yili-Xintian had already illegally gathered investment amounting to 8 billion RMB completed 80% of construction. Lu’an project had gathered 3.2 billion RMB of investments and began construction, with a plan to begin production by end of 2015.

During the investigation Greenpeace noted a severe lack of publicly available information on the permission application procedures of coal chemical plants. Greenpeace calls on the MEP to make such information fully available in order to ensure better monitoring of the industry and more effective enforcement of the law.

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