China's environmental watch-dog found 484 violations by 177 companies in the first three days of a monthlong campaign targeting pollution caused by processing imported waste.
The Ministry of Environmental Protection said on Monday that 60 teams with a total of 420 inspectors found these violations on July 4 to 6.
The inspectors had three days of training after the campaign was launched on July 1. Inspectors have suggested placing the violations on file for investigation and prosecution.
In one case, a yarn manufacture in Jiangyin, Jiangsu province, was found to have piled up imported waste outdoors without cover, and it failed to provide the import permit for last year and its import records for this year and last.
"In recent years, law enforcement officers found serious pollution caused by a number of small companies processing imported waste. It has been an outstanding problem that the pollution treatment facilities of these companies don't operate normally, which overloaded some regions with pollutants and resulted in severe pollution," the ministry said in a statement.
Inspectors will focus on whether enterprises have passed environmental evaluations, violated pollutant discharge rules, or illegally transferred imported waste, among other aspects. Those breaching environmental regulations should be investigated and punished in a timely manner, the ministry said.
The inspection teams also can leave some members, based on circumstances, to supervise and urge local environmental protection departments to investigate and accordingly enforce against the violations they find. Further, local officials will be summoned for talks if they are slow in dealing with problems, the statement said.
"Officials who tip off companies of the inspection or help conceal misconduct will be held accountable for their disciplinary violations," it said.
The statement also said county environmental protection departments will be informed of the violations the same day inspection teams find them and prefecture-level environment watchdogs will be copied the information so they can supervise how violations are dealt with.
The inspectors were selected from 27 provincial regions for the "full-scale examinations", and another 1,260 environmental protection officials from local governments are assisting.
The ministry will announce violations regularly as the campaign continues.
The central government is stepping up the fight against pollution and environmental degradation as decades of fast growth have left the country saddled with smog and contaminated soil.
In April, a reform plan to improve management of solid waste imports to protect environmental security and public health was adopted in a meeting of the Central Leading Group for Deepening Overall Reform, which is presided over by President Xi Jinping.