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Thursday, December 17, 2015, 22:56

10 company officials held over fabricated pollution data

By Agencies

10 company officials held over fabricated pollution data
A visitor (centre R) takes a photo in Tiananmen Square during heavy pollution in Beijing on Dec 1, 2015.  (AFP PHOTO / WANG ZHAO)

BEIJING - Police in China have detained 10 company officials for fabricating pollution data, the environment ministry said on Thursday, as the government steps up inspections of businesses amid growing public discontent over pollution.

The drive follows a red alert declared in Beijing last week over acrid smog that shrouded the capital, which triggered curbs on vehicle use and school closures, with a government call for a halt to "large-scale, outdoor activity".

Eight firms, from a sewage plant in the southern city of Dongguan to a Coca-Cola joint venture in northwestern Gansu province, were accused of using fake figures to hinder or manipulate environment checks, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said on its website.

Special law enforcement teams from the ministry uncovered the cases, it said, adding that the firms "unscrupulously" falsified data, in a bid to evade regulations.

The ministry said some of the companies involved may face criminal lawsuits. Chinese law prescribes jail terms of up to seven years for pollution offenders, state news agency Xinhua said.

Zhao Yanhong, a representative of Coca-Cola in China, said the case involving the joint venture happened in October and was handled by regional authorities, with a detained employee of the joint venture being released after five days.

"We've promptly accepted the criticism and rectification," Zhao added.

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