China Environmental News Digest

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Friday, January 13, 2006

Report by UNEP field mission to China emphasizes more cooperation

Jan. 12 (Xinhuanet) -- The UN Environment Program (UNEP) stands ready to assist the Chinese authorities in taking forward recommendations relating to the recent chemical spill disaster in China and measures to reduce the risk of a similar incident in the future, the UN agency said on Thursday.

number of forward-looking recommendations have resulted from the UNEP field mission to China following the chemical spill incident, UNEP said in a statement.

disaster was caused by a chemical plant explosion in Jilin province, northeast China, on November 13, which heavily polluted a regional river called the Songhua River. The major pollutants from the accident had been identified as benzene, aniline and nitrobenzene.

four-person UNEP team visited China from December 10 to 16,2005, at the invitation of the Chinese State Environmental Protection Administration. The mission followed the chemical explosion at the Jilin Petrochemical plant in Jilin province and subsequent pollution of the Songhua River.

UNEP team was also invited to visit affected sites on the Songhua River and to meet and discuss the incident with local and national Chinese officials, said the UNEP statement, which was released Thursday.

by both UNEP and the Chinese government, the report from the four-person UNEP team notes that lessons learnt from the incident should be incorporated into policy, legislation and enforcement. China and UNEP have agreed to share this report with the relevant Russian authorities.

to the future, the report suggests that the Chinese authorities might wish to consider implementing a program such as UNEP's own Awareness and Preparedness for Emergencies at Local Level, which aims to boost the coordination of local communities to an environmental emergency, and has proven to be an effective contribution to the risk reduction of industrial accidents.

report further recommends the consideration of a risk assessment of a random sample of Chinese chemical factories in order to strengthen safety related procedures, to minimize the risk of accidents and the improved handling of accidents if they do occur.

the team was impressed by the Chinese commitment to regular and systematic pollution monitoring, the sharing of results and other information and their cooperation with Russian experts and the UNEP team itself," said the statement.

December, UNEP had expressed satisfaction and appreciation for the timely and efficient measures taken by the Chinese government in responding to the river pollution crisis in northeast China, saying it's ready to offer necessary help.

Songhua River, in northeast China's Heilongjiang province, suffered major water pollution as a result of a blast that had occurred in the China National Petroleum Corporation's Jilin Petrochemical company on November 13. The crisis has been brought under control, according to the Chinese authorities.
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