Company blames faulty use of monitoring equipment
Officials at a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Northwest China's Gansu Province said on Thursday a faulty use of online monitoring equipment led to inaccurate sewage data, after it was accused by local environmental authorities of forging data.
An internal investigation found that the employee on duty discovered unstable data of monitored sewage, and his faulty handling led to the malfunction of online monitoring equipment, leading to "untrue data," according to a statement sent to the Global Times on Thursday by Gansu COFCO Coca-Cola Beverage Company.
The company is jointly run by beverage giant Coca-Cola and the State-owned China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corporation (COFCO).
The company said that it has fixed the problem, and the monitoring equipment has been restored.
Thursday's statement comes after the factory was accused by the Lanzhou Environmental Protection Bureau in Gansu on September 11 of forging water pollution data by altering the method of sampling sewage to dodge environmental regulations.
According to a statement published on the bureau's website on Tuesday, local police had detained a company executive for five days as punishment on October 15, based on the Water Pollution Prevention and Control Law and the Environmental Protection Law.
Insiders told the Global Times that beverage companies like Coca-Cola usually consume large amounts of water, and spend a lot on recycling. A 2009 report said that Pepsi Co-Beijing and Coca-Cola-Beijing were on Beijing's Worst Polluters List with 10 other companies.
"Forging water pollution data will affect the average city water pollution data and lead to an inaccurate environmental policy and indirectly pollute the environment," Qi Zhiqiang, a research fellow at the Nanjing University-ISC Environmental Health and Safety Academy, told the Global Times.
Qi noted that workers responsible for recording data come from an outside institution. Some enterprises may forge data by "cooperating with the third institution" to avoid punishment.
China's Ministry of Environmental Protection in July 2014 punished 19 enterprises, including several State-owned companies, for forging pollution data, , according to the Xinhua News Agency. The report said that forging data has become an "open secret."
China released its Action Plan for Water Pollution Prevention and Control in April, aimed at reducing pollutants, improving drinking water and promoting water conservation. The plan said more than 70 percent of water should be in good condition by 2020.
"As a responsible enterprise, we have always paid great attention to environmental protection and sustainable development. We do not tolerate such violations and we will take the negligence as a warning to strengthen our management and avoid a similar occurrence," said the statement.