Hebei, a province located in northern China that surrounds Beijing, will offer monetary rewards for whistleblowers who report acts of illegal pollution, according to an August 25 Reuters article.
A quarter of China’s steel is produced in Hebei, and the province has had smog issues in the past. In 2019, the Chinese government launched an investigation into environmental compliance after a 2015 nationwide investigation found that several local governments were not adhering to pollution regulations.
According to the Hebei Provincial Ecology and Environment Bureau, the new whistleblower policy which aims to “encourage the public to actively participate” in Hebei’s campaign to reduce pollution will be instituted on September 1. Whistleblowers could be offered cash rewards of up to 100,000 yuan ($14,473.67 USD) for reporting “the dumping of waste containing radioactive, infectious or poisonous materials, as well…deliberate attempts by polluters to evade detection.” If a whistleblower reports “illegal dumping of toxic heavy metals,” they could earn up to 50,000 yuan.
Since 2014, the province has taken actions to reduce pollution, shuttering chemical plants and steel mills, converting “thousands of household heating systems from coal to natural gas,” and enacting “new fuel and air quality standards.” According to Reuters, the air quality in Hebei has “improved significantly since 2014,” five of the ten smoggiest cities are located in the province.