Harbin faces Chinese regulators for environmental violations

Chinese environmental authorities have fined Harbin Pharmaceutical Group nearly $200,000 for violations involving exhaust gas discharge and the burning of toxic waste. "The punishments are a showcase of the provincial government's determination in tightening checks on environmental violations," said Chi Xiaode, environmental bureau director, in China Daily.

Environmental inspectors were dispatched to the antibiotics production plant to oversee fixes following a June report by the State broadcaster. Air testing revealed hydrogen sulfide levels 1,550 times higher than regulatory limits.

Harbin Group VP Li Daping said the company "will strictly follow the bureau's requirements." He also said the company has been buying chemicals from other suppliers to make up for the shortfall it's experienced since the regulator shut it down in June.

The plant's problems stretch back to at least 2007, when officials began receiving complaints from area residents of foul-smelling air and water pollution. The odor was eventually traced to an area of the plant used for fermentation and drying of penicillin. In addition, the company was releasing hydrogen sulfide into the air during wastewater treatment.

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