Chinese in Russia fined $5 mn for soil pollution

Moscow, Feb 1 (IANS/RIA Novosti) A court in Russia has fined Chinese farmers more than $5 million for polluting the soil with pesticides and cancelled their lease on a large plot of land, the agriculture watchdog said Friday.

The court in Russia's far east Primorye region issued the ruling as part of compensation for ecological damage.

The Chinese farmers were fined 158 million rubles ($5.3 million), said the watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor.

The cancelled agreement between the farmers and a local authority in charge of municipal property had covered 107 hectares.

It was not immediately clear how many farmers were affected.

Many Chinese citizens have come to Primorye, bordering northeast China, to cultivate crops in recent years.

Reports have frequently surfaced of excessive levels of agro-chemicals in the soil in cultivated areas, which experts say can quickly cause the land to become unusable.

Crops from such fields can be harmful to consumers.

In most cases, authorities are powerless in the fight against pesticide pollution.

By law, they cannot carry out soil inspections more than once every three years, while snap inspections require serious, identifiable reasons, such as mass illness caused by a farmer's products.

--IANS/RIA Novosti

pm/dg

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