BEIJING (AP) — China has changed its environment law for the first time in 25 years, instituting public oversight of companies and allowing for unlimited fines against persistent polluters.

The amendments passed by China’s legislature Thursday require local governments to track violators and major polluters to monitor their emissions, and to disclose this data to the public.

Before, low fines for polluting gave companies little incentive to carry out costly modifications to deal with pollutants. Now, if violators who are fined fail to rectify the problem, the fine can keep increasing to an unlimited amount. Executives in polluting companies could face up to 15 days of detention.

The amended law also allows registered nongovernmental organizations that have been dealing with environmental issues for at least five years to sue heavy polluters.

Subscribe to Asian Correspondent

Receive our weekly round-up of the most important stories in Asia

We will never give away, trade or sell your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time.