By WAYNE MA and YVONNE LEE
BEIJING -- One of China's largest energy companies has
temporarily shut three subsidiaries and promised to conduct
company-wide inspections after a state television report said
the subsidiaries had violated environmental laws, in the latest
sign of the government's sensitivity to growing discontent over
China Petrochemical Corp., known as Sinopec Group., ordered
the units - two refineries and a petrochemical plant in
southern Guangdong province - to halt production while they
rectified any problems, it said in a statement this week.
That came after state-run China Central Television reported
earlier in the day that Sinopec's refining subsidiary Sinopec
Zhanjiang Dongxing Petrochemical Co. and chemical firm
Guangdong Zhanjiang New Zhongmei Chemical Industries Co.
improperly disposed of waste water.
The report also said another unit, Sinopec Guangzhou Petrochemical Co., illegally stored
large amounts of liquid in two tanks designed for emergency use
only, posing high environmental risks.
Sinopec also said it sent a team to investigate the
subsidiaries and would severely deal with those
responsible for any infractions.
The state-owned company's response to the reported
violations highlights the pressure China's government is facing
to resolve environmental problems.
Earlier this year, officials in the southwestern Chinese
city of Shifang scrapped the planned construction of a metals factory
after thousands of protesters rallied against the project over environmental concerns.
Last year, more than 500 people protested outside a factory
making equipment for solar-power generation after it polluted a
nearby brook in the eastern city of Haining, and 12,000
demonstrators protested against a petrochemical facility in the
northeastern city of Dalian.
In its statement, Sinopec said the reported violations by
its subsidiaries weren't in line with the company's
management philosophy and strategy, and violated the company's
relevant management systems.
We thank the relevant government departments, the news
media and public citizens for supervising and criticizing the
company, it added.
Dow Jones Newswires