Officials Blasted for Literally Watering Down Bad Air Data
Attempts to tamper with China’s air quality monitoring data or equipment have made it difficult for the public to breathe easy in recent years.
In the latest scandal, officials in the eastern province of Jiangxi and central China’s Henan, have been caught using “mist cannons” to water down toxic air quality readings. A high reading may have put their promotions on the line as China intensifies its fight against air and water pollution.
Cannons were used by the authorities to spray water vapor near an air quality monitoring site located in a high-tech park in Xinyu, Jiangxi, a recent inspection by the Ministry of Environmental Protection found.
Several officials overseeing public sanitation work at Nanwan Lake, a tourist site in Xinxiang, Henan province, were also rapped for similar violations, the ministry said.
The use of mist cannons, which blast nebulized liquid to flush out dust, has interfered with air quality monitoring activities, the ministry’s environmental monitoring department said. But the authorities didn’t offer details of when the incidents occurred and how much they altered data.
Officials overseeing the high-tech park in Xinyu have been warned and slapped with demerit points, which will affect their future promotions. The driver of the water truck has been fired, according to the statement.
Repeated attempts to fudge air quality data highlight the lack of effective punishments for officials who interfere in the operations of air quality monitoring stations dotting the country, the ministry admitted in the statement.
The environmental protection ministry is responsible for running more than 1,300 air-quality monitoring stations including those in Jiangxi and Henan provinces.
Seven people, including two former environment protection officials, were sentenced to 15 to 22 months in prison in June 2016 after they were found to have stuffed cotton gauze into air-sampling devices to improve readings in October 2016.
Contact reporter Li Rongde (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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