Chinese Court in Lanzhou Rejected Lawsuit Against Polluters – Individual Citizens Not Qualified To Sue It would appear that nobody will pay a price for polluting the water supply. Is China serious about new environmental standards?

WASHINGTON – The Chinese people have been told that now their government is really serious about fighting air, soil and water pollution. In practice, well, in practice it is a different story.

Lawsuit rejected in Lanzhou

For example, when it was revealed that in the water supply of the city Lanzhou (North Western China) the level of cancer-inducing benzene is 20 times above the accepted safety levels, 5 residents filed a lawsuit against Lanzhou Veolia Water Co., the water utility, and a subsidiary of the French firm Veolia Environment.  They demanded the payment of damages, an apology and a clear certification of water safety.

However, their lawsuit was rejected by the court.

Individuals not qualified to sue

And how so? Please note that the court did not dispute the facts of the case. The water supply had been contaminated.

The court rejected the lawsuit on the basis that only certain accredited organizations can file law suits in cases such as these in which the public at large is harmed. Individuals have no right to sue.

Procedures harm enforcement

So, there you have it. China is supposedly serious about protecting the environment. But only pre-screened, hand-picked entities can take action against polluters.

Lanzhou is notoriously one of the most polluted cities in China. Now the citizens discovered that their water is not safe. And yet the courts prevent them from taking any action. As a result, it would appear that nobody will pay any real price for endangering public health.

It will take decades

If this is a good example of how China is trying to implement tough environmental laws, it will take decades before the unlucky Chinese people will see real progress.

Between now and then, it is likely that serious pollution incidents will spark political protests.

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