Six domestic companies in Gwangju and South Jeolla Province, including large companies such as LG Chem and Hanwha Chemical, have been manipulating the measurement of air pollutants for years, the Ministry of Environment said on April 17.
The Ministry of Environment and the Yeongsan River Basin Environment Agency have found that LG Chem's factory in Hwachi of Yeosu, Hanwha Chemical's Yeosu Plant, SNNC, Korea Cement's factory in Taein of Gwangyang, Namhae Environment and Ssangwoo Ascon Co., have colluded with four measurement companies to falsify measurements of air pollutants. The six companies and the four measurement agencies were all referred to the prosecution for investigation.
The measurement agencies are suspected of falsifying and issuing a total of 13,096 air pollution measurement records over the four years from 2015 at the request of 235 pollutant-emitting workplaces in the Yeosu Industrial Complex.
The Ministry of Environment and the Yeongsan River Basin Environment Agency analyzed the data of the measurement agencies and confirmed their collusion with the pollutant-emitting companies. They lowered emission levels of major air pollutants, such as dust, sulfur oxide and nitrogen oxide, to 33.6 percent of what was actually measured.
In particular, LG Chem's factory has colluded with its measurement agency to manipulate the amount of emissions of major air pollutants as well as the measurement of vinyl chloride, which was 173 times higher than the standard. LG Chem was booked for 149 cases of manipulation of measured values.
Hanwha Chemical's Yeosu plant is also suspected of having falsified measurement records in 53 cases, including cutting by half its nitrogen oxide emission level. Hanwha Chemical even wrote down the results that were not actually measured in the measurement record book as "normal."
The Yeongsan River Basin Environment Agency presented SNS messages between officials of the six companies and the four measurement agencies as evidence of collusion between them.
Following the announcement from the Ministry of Environment, LG Chem CEO Shin Hak-chul decided to shut down the PVC paste plant in Yeosu to avoid public criticism.