VLADIVOSTOK, February 1 (RIA Novosti) – A court in Russia's Far East has fined Chinese farmers more than $5 million for polluting local soil with pesticides and canceled their lease on a large plot of land, the regional office of Russia's agriculture watchdog said Friday.
"As part of the compensation for ecological damage, the court fined the Chinese farmers 158.4 million rubles [$5.3 milllion]. The ruling will come into force in 30 days," the watchdog, Rosselkhoznadzor, said. It did not specify when the court, located in Russia's Primorye Territory, issued the ruling.
The canceled agreement between the farmers and a local authority in charge of municipal property had covered 107 hectares (264 acres), Rosselkhoznadzor said.
It was not immediately clear how many farmers had been affected by the ruling or what their legal status had been.
Many Chinese citizens have come to Primorye, a Russian region 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, local 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.