Harbin Pharmaceutical Group, one of China’s largest drug producers, has been ordered to pay a hefty fine for failing to meet environmental requirements, local authorities confirmed Thursday.
The environmental protection bureau in Heilongjiang Province has ordered the company to pay a fine of 1.23 million yuan ($191,626) for discharging exhaust gas without meeting environmental requirements and improperly storing and burning toxic waste, said Chi Xiaode, director of the bureau.
He said the bureau has sent supervisors to help the company conduct overhauls in more than 100 of its workshops, which were ordered to halt production in June after the problems were found.
The workshops in the company’s General Pharmacy Factory mainly produce chemicals for making penicillin.
“The punishments are a showcase of the provincial government’s determination in tightening checks on environmental violations,” said Chi.
He said the punishments sent a warning to companies that “environmental protection matters a lot to their survival.”
Li Daping, vice president of the group company, told Xinhua Thursday that the company will strictly follow the bureau’s requirements.
“We have purchased the drug chemicals from other places to make up for the losses and to sustain production of the penicillin medicines,” he said.
Residents living near the company’s factory in Harbin City have long complained about fowl smelling air and water pollution.
The complaints came after China Central TV exposed in June that the company emitted waste gas and water that exceeded legal limits.
Wu Zhijun, head of the company’s General Pharmacy Factory, later apologized to the public and promised to revamp its pollution control.
Chi said that the factory could only reduce production to avoid excessive pollution discharges.
The public has heavily criticized the drug maker, after it was found that in its 2010 report it only spent 19.6 million yuan on waste treatment equipment, compared with 542 million yuan on marketing.