Stay tuned! China Supreme People’s Court will hear the famous “Changzhou Toxic Land Case” on Aug.18, in which CBCGDF, in order to safeguard environmental public interest, co-filed litigations against 3 chemical companies that contaminated the land (soil & groundwater) in a devastating manner & sickened hundreds of students from Changzhou Foreign Languages School nearby 7 years ago, but later encountered big trouble. A hard fight & long journey!
Believing polluters must be held responsible for their pollution, CBCGDF took the case to the Supreme People’s Court. And today (Aug. 18) the Supreme People’s Court will once again hear the case. Let’s stay in tune!
To bring the case to a wider attention, CBCGDF now translates a report from CENews as follows:
According to the news of China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF), on August 18, the Supreme People’s Court will formally hear the “Changzhou Toxic Land Case”.
Three chemical companies relocated without ecological restoration of the original plant site.
The civil judgment of Changzhou Intermediate People’s Court of Jiangsu Province (2016) Su 04 Min Chu No. 214 shows that the land in question was originally the factory site of three companies, Jiangsu Changlong Chemical Co., Ltd, Changzhou Changyu Chemical Co., Ltd and Jiangsu Huada Chemical Group Co.
The three defendants polluted the site and its surrounding environment in the course of production and operation and management of hazardous waste.
The three enterprises were later relocated, but the site in question was not remediated and was subsequently stored and sold to a real estate developer. Subsequently, when the relevant company carried out ecological restoration of the site in question, it did not strictly follow the EIA report, resulting in the leakage of toxic chemical waste.
Later, the developer rescinded the agreement and the land in question was turned into a public green space.
In September 2015, after Changzhou Foreign Languages School moved into a new campus site just a road away from the site in question, a number of students experienced uncomfortable reactions, and hundreds of students were examined for abnormal symptoms such as dermatitis, eczema, bronchitis, abnormal blood indicators, and leukopenia.
Does it apply to the Ministry of Environmental Protection’s former “Opinions on Strengthening the Prevention and Control of Soil Pollution” item 8?
In early 2016, CBCGDF and Friends of Nature jointly filed an environmental civil public interest litigation against the original three chemical companies on the site in question with the Changzhou Intermediate People’s Court, with the following 3 requests:
1) The three defendants be ordered to eliminate the impact of their pollutants on the ecological environment such as soil and groundwater of the original plant site and the surrounding area, and to bear the relevant ecological restoration costs.
2) The three defendants be ordered to apologize to the public in the national, Jiangsu provincial and Changzhou city-level media for the ecological and environmental damage they caused, including soil and groundwater pollution.
3) The three defendants be ordered to bear the costs of ecological and environmental damage investigation, pollution testing and inspection, damage identification and assessment, ecological and environmental restoration program preparation, attorney’s fees, travel expenses, investigation and evidence collection fees, expert consultation fees, case acceptance fees and so on.
The focus of the dispute is mainly on 2 aspects:
1) Whether the Subject of litigation in this case is of public interest?
2) Can the two plaintiffs’ requests for the three defendants to eliminate the danger or compensate for the cost of environmental restoration and apologize for their actions be established?
The Changzhou Intermediate People’s Court held that the Subject of in this case was of public interest. While for the second point of contention, the Changzhou Intermediate People’s Court held that it was not established.
The land in question was acquired by the Changzhou Xinbei Land Reserve Center in 2009 by agreement and was actually delivered. The Changzhou Municipal Government and the Xinbei District Government implemented emergency disposal of the land in question before the commencement of this litigation, and are organizing the corresponding environmental remediation.
The environmental emergency disposal and remediation implemented by Changzhou is in line with the 8th provision of the Ministry of Environmental Protection’s former “Opinions on Strengthening the Prevention and Control of Soil Pollution” (Environment Development  No. 48).
In early 2017, the Changzhou Intermediate People’s Court ruled to reject all litigation requests and awarded the above two social organizations more than 1.89 million yuan in legal fees.
Jiangsu High People’s Court: Apologize to the public and bear the lawyer’s fee and case acceptance fee of 200 yuan
Both social organizations argued that the Changzhou Intermediate People’s Court misinterpreted and applied the Ministry of Environmental Protection’s former Document No. 48, and appealed to the Jiangsu High People’s Court respectively.
In February 2017, Jiangsu High People’s Court accepted the case.
At the end of 2018, the court of second instance held that the three chemical companies were responsible for the environmental pollution of the land in question and demanded their legal responsibility.
The Jiangsu High People’s Court ruled that the three chemical companies should make apologies to the public, bear the attorney’s fees and case acceptance fee of 200 yuan (100 yuan each for the first and second trial), and rejected the other claims of the social organizations.
On January 29, 2019, according to the effective civil judgment of Jiangsu High People’s Court (2017) Su Min Final 232, the three defendants in the “Changzhou Toxic Land Case” published an apology letter in the announcement page of the Legal Daily, apologizing for the land in question – the land in Longhutang Street, Xinbei District, Changzhou City. They apologized to the public for the landfill of industrial solid waste and the improper disposal of industrial solid waste during the production and operation of the original site, which caused different degrees of contamination to the soil and groundwater of the site.
In early 2019, CBCGDF submitted a petition for rehearing to the Supreme People’s Court and proposed:
1) Both the first and second trials failed to identify important facts of the case, such as the contamination of the land involved in the case at the time of storage and the division of responsibility for treatment; and the so-called repeated treatment and remediation by the local government, which were all emergency disposals and did not routinely treat the land involved.
2) The first and second trials were obviously wrong in applying the law, both trials pointing out that chemical companies shall be responsible for the pollution, but held that the government should bear the cost of pollution remediation, in which “The polluter bears the responsibility” became empty words.
In April 2020, CBCGDF received a ruling from the Supreme People’s Court, deciding to bring the Changzhou Toxic Land case to trial.
Original Chinese Article: https://www.cenews.com.cn/news.html?aid=998358
Check by: Maggie
Contact: V10@cbcgdf.org; +8617319454776
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