Environment group sues China oil giant for nearly $12.5 mil

Environment group sues China oil giant for nearly $12.5 mil

BEIJING - A Chinese government-backed environmental group said Friday it has launched legal action against state-owned oil giant PetroChina for almost $10 million (S$12.5 million) over pollution.

The All China Environment Federation said on its website it had submitted a lawsuit accusing PetroChina of "illegal emissions of pollutants".

The suit filed with a court in Beijing alleges PetroChina was responsible for emissions that polluted soil and underground water in Jilin province in northern China, the group said in a separate statement.

The Federation said it had reported the company - a subsidiary of CNPC, the country's largest energy company by production - to the police and would sue it for 60.1 million yuan (S$12.4 million).

China's rapid economic growth has left a heavy toll on the environment, but it is rare for powerful state-owned companies to be sued over pollution.

The same group attempted to sue China's oceanic administration this summer in connection with a major oil spill off the country's northern coast, but the court dismissed the case.

Environmentalists say their efforts to punish polluters through Chinese courts have been limited by relatively low fines dictated by the law, and local courts colluding with the defendants.

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