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Apple Supplier in China Penalized for Environmental Degradation

China, SHANGHAI

Chinese authorities have penalized an Apple supplier for environmental damage.

The company, Riteng Computer Accessory, is accused of turning a nearby river in Shanghai “white” by dumping pollutants.

According to a February 22 statement from Riteng parent company Casetek, the supplier had wrongfully dumped wastewater used for cleaning processes. The company claimed this was due to staff negligence.

Residents reported that the river’s water had turned white, a local environmental protection bureau reported. The water was then traced back to Riteng’s facilities in the Songjiang industrial zone.

The Financial Times quoted He Yinfang, an employee of the industrial park’s wastewater treatment station, as saying there used to be “fish and shellfish in the river that we used to eat. But now there are no fish at all.”

He added: “And when the water turns white, we can’t even use it to water the vegetables any more.”

The bureau’s preliminary investigation found that the wastewater included cutting fluid and oil that had flowed from the company’s storm drain.

The environmental bureau has penalized the company with a fine of some $43,000 USD.

The government has also summoned Riteng to a hearing to explain its version of events. Failure to respond to the summons by the end of this week will provoke “the most severe punishment.”

Casetek says Riteng is complying with authorities’ investigation, and working to resolve the problems at the Songjiang facility.

 Wang Jingjing, vice director for China’s Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, said that despite the latest news about Riteng, Apple has been making progress in keeping its suppliers in line with environmental regulations.

The institute has previously been critical of Apple for failing to monitor its suppliers. But the company has since stepped up audits and increased pressure on suppliers to comply, Wang said.

Meanwhile, Another Apple supplier, electronics manufacturer Foxconn, enacted a hiring freeze last week in response to the slowdown in production of the iPhone 5.

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