China Environmental News Digest

Daily updated Environmental news related to China

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Central govt to probe into river pollution in NE China

Feb. 27 (Xinhuanet By Xinhua writer Wang Jingzhong ) -- China's environmental watchdog is making an investigation into a recent river contamination after learning the local municipality ignored its own environmental agency which had tried to shutdown the offending plant months ago.

this month untreated waste from a distillery in the municipality of Hailin flowed down the Hailin River to seriously affect the water supply of Mudanjiang, a city of 80,000 people in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.

Hailin Xueyuan Distillery is mainly responsible for the water pollution in Mudanjiang," said a joint statement issued by the Ministry of Supervision (MOS) and the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) on Monday.

environmental protection bureau of Hailin city submitted a report to the Hailin municipal government in December 2005, requesting the shutdown of the plant.

the Hailin municipal government failed to order the shutdown of the distillery," said the statement, noting that the inaction by the local government led to the sustained and illegal discharge of pollutants.

Feb. 19, aquatic fungus was found to have blocked a water supply source in Mudanjiang. Sticky, yellow globs frightened city residents of the city and prompting the local government to take a series of precautionary measures.

fungus was later confirmed to be mainly caused by excessive discharge of pollutants by The Hailin Xueyuan Distillery.

to SEPA and MOS, the distillery built an alcohol production line without going through an environmental impact assessment, and put the line into operation in the absence of waste-water treatment facilities, causing "highly-concentrated polluted water to flow into the Hailang River," a tributary of the Mudanjiang River.

and MOS also confirmed that the Hailin Xueyuan Beer Co. and Hailin Food Co. were responsible for discharging pollutants beyond the legal limit.

two central government departments demanded that the enterprises suspend production. They will only be allowed to resume production after the provincial environmental authority confirms that waste-water treatment facilities meet with environmental standards.

will be the first time for the two central government departments have jointly handled pollution incidents since the central government issued last week a set of regulations aiming at punishing government officials responsible for environmental damage.

statement also listed three other cases involving the violation of environment-related laws, saying that probes into the four cases will be under the direct supervision of the two departments.

four cases must be handled in the first quarter of this year," Sun Huaixin, an MOS official told Xinhua.

three other pollution investigations to be supervised by the SEPA and MOS include the "local policies and regulations," formulated by Xinzhou city of north China's Shanxi Province, which violated the country's national environment laws.

to be investigated is an incident of manganese pollution in the border area between the provinces of Guizhou and Hunan and Chongqing Municipality.

fourth case involves environmental damage caused by the Baimei Paper Enterprise in Yuzhong County in northwest China's Gansu Province.

local policies and regulations that violate national environmental protection laws and regulations must be rescinded," said the joint statement.

SEPA and MOS also demanded strong measures against polluting enterprises, saying that they must be shutdown if they do not install sufficient pollution treatment facilities.

statement warned that officials who obstruct pollution regulations will be punished.

two decades of fast-paced economic development, that improved the standard of living for hundreds of millions of people, China is increasingly concerned about air, water and soil pollution.

their unbridled pursuit of economic growth, many local governments formulated policies and regulations to attract polluting enterprises. Some local government officials openly assured polluters that they will be exempted from the country's environment laws.

chemical spill into the Songhua River in November last year sounded an alarm over the seriousness of the country's worsening environment, prompting the central government to take a series of measures against polluters.

a long time it was difficult to tackle polluters due to the lack of regulations targeting officials who are behind the polluters," said Sun.

that much needed regulations are in place, "Our law enforcement work will be greatly enhanced," he said. adding that the MOS and SEPA will soon announce other pollution cases that they will jointly investigate.
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