BEIJING -- Chinese authorities have pledged more effective measures to regulate the manufacturing of batteries and other heavy metal industries to prevent heavy metal pollution and poisoning.
These measures include strict market entry permission systems, better daily environmental management to ensure safe disposal of pollutants, intensified administration and punishment of violations and more information transparency to encourage the public' s supervision, according to a circular issued by the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) on Wednesday.
For those regions where serious lead pollution and poisoning cases occurred, environmental authorities will suspend all environmental reviews and approval for new industrial projects in these regions, and prompt suspension orders will be handed down for the enterprises responsible for the poisoning cases, Tao Detian, the ministry's spokesman, said Wednesday.
Criminal penalties will be imposed upon the heads of the responsible businesses, and local chief officials will also be held accountable for pollution incidents, Tao said.
The circular came after a serious lead poisoning case in east China's Zhejiang province where pollutants from a local lead-acid battery plant had caused elevated blood lead levels in more than 300 people, including 99 children.
According to a probe jointly conducted by the MEP and the provincial government in Zhejiang, the pollution was caused when lead dust leaked from the slits and holes around the exhaust ducts at the plant, and local government is also responsible for the poisoning for its failure to supervise and handle the case in an effective and timely manner, Tao said.
A total of 53 people received treatment in hospital and they are now stable, Tao said.
Also, lead levels in the soil, water and crops in the plant's surrounding areas were tested and found to be within legal limits, he added.