KUNMING, June 2 (Xinhua) -- A court in southwest China's Yunnan Province sentenced three executives of a chemical company Tuesday to three and four years in prison for their role in the arsenic pollution of a lake that cut off water supply to 26,000 people.
The Chengjiang County People's Court convicted Chengjiang Jinye Industry and Trade Co., Ltd and its three executives -- board chairman Li Dahong, general manager Li Yaohong and production department chief Jin Dadong -- of causing serious environmental pollution.
Li Dahong was sentenced to four years in prison with a fine of 300,000 yuan (43,923 U.S. dollars). The other two each got a three-year jail term plus a fine of 150,000 yuan.
The company was fined 16 million yuan.
The company representative and three defendants said they would appeal after the verdict was announced Tuesday.
In the trial in mid-April, prosecutors accused the company of expanding production facilities without getting approval from environmental authorities and dumping poisonous waste containing arsenic into the lake since 2001.
The 30-sq-km Yangzonghai Lake near the border between provincial capital Kunming and Yuxi City, was a drinking water source for 26,000 people. It was found to be contaminated with arsenic last June.
After inspection, the local government found that the pollutant came from the chemical company that produced fertilizer. It was ordered to close Sept. 17.
Twelve people from the local government, including Chen Zhifen, a vice mayor of Yuxi City, were removed from their posts due to dereliction of duty last October.
The local government is making efforts to improve water quality in the lake by restoring wetlands and reducing waste dumped into it.
The environmental protection bureau of Kunming announced this March that the volume of arsenic had been lowered from 0.128 mg per liter to 0.111 mg per liter.
But Qin Guangrong, Yunnan's provincial governor, estimated that it would take three years to bring the density to a safe level, below 0.05 mg per liter, which will cost about 4 billion yuan.