Ice house reveals lengths to which governments will go to sweeten environmental data

Updated 2018-01-23 11:54:02 China Daily

Photo were recently posted online showing the office building of the environmental protection bureau of Shizuishan, Northwest China's Ningxia Hui autonomous region, covered in icicles and frost because a water canon truck belonging to the local sanitation station had sprayed too much water over the building in an attempt to manipulate the air quality monitoring data. Southern Metropolis Daily commented on Monday:The photos showing the frozen façades of the environmental watchdog's office building have made it a laughingstock on social media. It turns out that the bureau used the water canon in an attempt to lower the density of airborne pollutants around the building, as this is where the air quality monitoring equipment is installed to provide air quality data for that part of the city.

Were it not for the sanitation workers' inadvertently coating the building in ice because they failed to take into account the sudden drop in temperature caused by a cold front arriving from the Mongolian Plateau to the north, the misleading practice, of which most local residents would be unaware, would no doubt have continued producing beautiful air quality data to be reported to the higher authorities.

Surprisingly, only two officials of the district's sanitation station received warnings from the Ningxia environmental protection department, while no officials of the city's environmental protection bureau have been reprimanded, even though they are the direct beneficiaries of the deception.It is not yet clear whether the sanitation station took the initiative to do this or simply followed the orders of the environmental bureau, to which it is subordinate.

According to law, the intentional fabrication of environmental data is a crime, for which the maximum penalty is imprisonment for a minimum of five years.The public prosecution organs of Ningxia are obliged to look into the case, in which the region's environmental protection department is actually not in the position to mete out the final judgment, because it should also be held accountable for its misconduct, if not crimes, as the top environmental administrative body in the region.

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