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Nanjing takes on Sinopec over $18.4 million in unpaid sewage fees

(Global Times)

08:56, January 06, 2012

Nanjing water supply and conservation administration recently used its microblog to fire a broadside at a local chemical plant, accusing it of not paying sewage treatment charges that over the years amounted to 116 million yuan ($18.4 million).

The Nanjing Chemical Industrial Co. under China Petrochemical Corp. (Sinopec) has refused to pay for sewage processing since 2006 despite repeated negotiations and reminders, the administration revealed in 12 Sina Weibo entries between December 19 and 21.

"The accusations are groundless. The water we used is self-supplied. All facilities for water supply, sewage and pollution treatment have been laid by ourselves. Why should we hand any fees to them?" Yu Guozhi, the plant's spokesman, told the Global Times yesterday.

"We have continued supplying water to surrounding communities and public facilities at a low price. Delayed payments and losses have cost us 20 million yuan. We are contributing to society," Yu claimed.

According to a local regulation jointly issued in 2005 by several departments including the finance and water conservation bureaus, all users must pay for sewage treatment fees whether the water is self-supplied or not. But users who supply their own water can be exempted from charges or obtain deductions if their discharge is properly treated.

In Nanjing, tap water costs 2.8 yuan per ton, including 1.3 yuan for urban sewage treatment, the administration said.

"Where there is supply, there is discharge. Can the chemical company be sure that none of its discharge is using the city's sewage disposal system? Furthermore, the wastewater has been found not to meet national cleanliness standards," a member of the administration's staff said to the Global Times.

On December 26, Sinopec president Fu Chengyu denied the plant's sewage treatment was inadequate to reporters. The plant is in financial difficulties after being reorganized in 2005, Fu noted, adding that the group is negotiating with the local government to solve the problem.

"During a plant visit by senior city leaders on Saturday, the government agreed to downplay the problem and delete the online accusations," Yu stated.

Niu Fengrui, director of the Institute for Urban and Environmental Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said collecting sewage treatment fees is an effective way of curbing urban pollution.

"It's not right for the plant to avoid charges," he said.

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