Draft act would remove penalty limit for cases that cause accidents
Experts are suggesting that enterprises that cause accidents related to air pollution pay for all the subsequent economic losses, regardless of the amount.
The upper limit of the fine for causing such accidents has been removed from the draft of the Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Act's new version, proposed by the Environmental Protection Ministry.
The current act says enterprises should be fined less than 50 percent of the losses caused by the pollution-related accidents, with an upper limit of 500,000 yuan ($80,330). This upper limit "shows sympathy and tolerance to those who were responsible for the accidents and deserved to be punished", some experts have said.
Penalty calculations in the draft were changed to 20 to 30 percent of the direct losses caused by the air-pollution accidents, without setting an upper limit.
"This expression can be interpreted as a proposal to set no upper limit for the fine," Chai Fahe, vice-president of the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, told China Daily.
But Chai, who participated in writing the draft, added that he does not entirely agree with what the draft says about this issue.
"I think enterprises that cause air-pollution accidents should take full responsibility, paying for all the economic losses they've caused, not the 20 to 30 percent as mentioned in the draft," said Chai.
"Otherwise, who should be held responsible for the other 70 to 80 percent?"
Another highlight of the draft is the newly introduced system of "fining by the day", which sets a daily penalty of 10,000 yuan for those who don't correct the infringement or don't change their illegal behavior even after being fined.
Such penalties wouldn't stop until the illegal behavior ends.
The draft has raised the upper limits of a series of penalties, including the fine for illegally discharging airborne pollutants, from 200,000 yuan to 1 million yuan, and the fine for burning straw or leaves in restricted areas from 200 yuan to 2,000 yuan.