In a landmark lawsuit, twonon-governmental organizations (NGOs) have demanded compensation of10 million yuan (1.58 million U.S. dollars) from companies whichdumped toxic chemicals in southwest China’s Yunnan Province. Friends of Nature (FON) and the Chongqing Green VolunteerAssociation exchanged evidence with the defendant, Luliang ChemicalIndustry Co. Ltd. Commercial LED Displays
and Luliang Peace Technology Co. Ltd. in court onWednesday. If the the NGOs win the case, the compensation will be used forenvironmental rehabilitation in the polluted areas in Qujing city,said Guo Jinghui, a spokeswoman of FON. Qujing city’s environmental protection bureau also joined asplaintiff in the lawsuit, which was filed last September andaccepted by the city’s Intermediate People’s Court in October 2011. China Indoor SMD LED Display
The court has set up a special environmental protection tribunal,but the trial date has not been confirmed, said Guo. Earlier this month, seven people connected to the dumping receivedjail terms from Qujing’s Qilin District Court after the companieswere found to have dumped 5,000 tonnes of chromium-contaminatedwaste near Chachong Reservoir and on nearby hills from April toJune last year. Rainfall in June washed some of the chemicals into local watersupplies, causing the deaths of 77 heads of cattle. No human deathshave been attributed to chromium pollution in the case, but atleast 14 local residents have been diagnosed with cancer since 2002and many suspect their diseases were caused by contaminateddrinking water. China Indoor Advertising LED Display
Experts believe the civil case will be a landmark in China as it isthe country’s first public interest litigation (PIL) filed bygrass-roots NGOs, following the country’s mulling of including PILin the Civil Procedure Law. The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’stop legislature, read a draft amendment to the Civil Procedure Lawfor the first and second time last October and this April. According to the draft, “legally-registered organizations andsocial groups” are entitled to file lawsuits in cases ofenvironmental pollution and other behavior infringing publicinterest. Wang Canfa, a law professor with the China University of PoliticalScience and Law, believes the trial process would have a directimpact on the Civil Procedure Law amendment. “The case will be a good start for the PIL filing, not by theaggrieved party, in China,” Wang said.
Previous efforts of some grass-roots NGOs in China to file PILsended up being rejected by courts, mainly because they were not theaggrieved party, said Guo of the FON. She said before the suit in Qujing, the only PIL accepted and wonby a group was filed by the All-China Environment Federation, agovernment-affiliated organization under the Ministry ofEnvironmental Protection. She speculated that the governmental background of the federationmight have prompted the court accepting and ruling in the case.