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Yunnan executives jailed for guilty of lake arsenic pollution

A COMPANY in southwest China and three of its senior executives were found guilty yesterday of polluting a major freshwater lake. The company was fined 16 million yuan (US$2.34 million).

A court in Chengjiang County in Yunnan Province found Yunnan Chengjiang Jinye Industrial and Trade Co was responsible for polluting the water of Yangzonghai Lake, one of nine plateau lakes in Yunnan.

The indictment said the water in the 30-square-kilometer lake was no longer drinkable or suitable for fish farming and more than 26,000 nearby residents had their water cut off, causing losses worth millions of yuan.

Board Chairman Li Dahong was sentenced to four years in prison and fined 300,000 yuan. General Manager Li Yaohong and production department Chief Jin Dadong each received a three-year jail term plus a fine of 150,000 yuan.

The company and the three executives said they would appeal.

Water in the lake was found to contain arsenic last June and Cheng°?jiang Jinye Industrial and Trade Co was identified as the source of the pollution on September 17.

The company was shut down immediately and those thought responsible for the pollution were detained. The provincial government said 26 officials were involved in the crime and 12 were sacked.

The court heard the case in April. The three executives pleaded not guilty and asked for a reexamination of the source of the pollution but their arguments were rejected by the court.

The local government is making efforts to improve water quality in the lake by restoring wetlands and reducing waste dumped into it.

The environmental protection bureau of Kunming, the provincial capital, announced this March that the volume of arsenic had been lowered from 0.128 milligrams per liter to 0.111mg per liter.

But Qin Guangrong, Yunnan's provincial governor, estimated that it would take three years to bring the density down to a safe level, below 0.05mg per liter, and the cleanup will cost about 4 billion yuan.


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