Courts wade through toxic sludge

Companies and agents who imported nearly 140 tons of waste have been ordered to pay over 1 million yuan.

Two companies and two agents who made false customs declarations and imported nearly 140 tons of dangerous waste have been ordered to pay more than 1 million yuan (US$140,000) for disposal, according to the No.3 Branch of the Shanghai People's Procuratorate.

An Anhui waste disposal company contracted a Ningbo company and two agents Xue and Huang to illegally buy waste containing copper from overseas. Xue and Huang then prepared more than 138 tons of copper sludge in South Korea and used forged documents to attempt to import the waste as copper ore.

Shanghai customs spotted the fraud and impounded the waste at the port.

The Shanghai Solid Waste Administration said the sludge contained large amounts of heavy metals and should be disposed of professionally. Shanghai Price Certification Center evaluated the cost of disposal to be over 1 million yuan.

During the hearing, Zhang Yong, director of East China Normal University's School of Environmental Sciences, said the sludge contained copper, nickel and zinc, along with small amounts of heavy metals. He said the sludge should be treated as a dangerous waste and disposal should be conducted under close supervision.

The court ordered the four to pay the entire cost of disposal.

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