China will jail 47 steel mill officials for falsifying air pollution data in a sign that Beijing is stepping up its crackdown on firms that violate environmental regulations.
Officers who worked at four factories in the city of Tangshan near Beijing, China's main steel center, were sentenced to between six and eighteen months in prison, the municipal government said in a statement on its WeChat channel, citing court documents.
The verdicts highlight Beijing's efforts to clean up a major source of air pollution. The authorities have stepped up environmental controls in the steel industry over the past decade to reduce the incidence of polluted air. The goal is to have a capacity of over 530 million tonnes in the ultra-low emissions category by 2025.
Officers in Tangshan Great Wall Steel Group Songting Iron & Steel Co., Hebei Xinda Iron & Steel Group Co., Tangshan Medium Thick Plate Co. and Tangshan Jinma Steel Group interfered with monitoring devices to allow the release of large amounts of pollutants. in March 2021, according to the statement. Two companies - Tangshan Songting and Hebei Xinda - were also fined 4 million to 7 million yuan ($628,000 to $1.1 million).
This is part of a long-term fight against environmental pollution in the steel center. Tangshan Jinma and three other factories were found guilty in March last year of failing to comply with production cutback requirements imposed to reduce environmental pollution.