China Environmental News Digest

Daily updated Environmental news related to China

Thursday, May 18, 2006

China says south coast water pollution "serious"

Wed May 17, 2006 1:43 AM ET

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has admitted that measures to tackle "serious" water pollution in the southern booming province of Guangdong are not working, state media reported on Wednesday.

Water quality in both coastal waters and inland estuaries remained poor, the China Daily said, citing Chinese experts.

The drainage of land pollutants to the sea was a key reason for the poor sea quality and poor ecological environment, the China Daily quoted Zhong Jianqiang, an environmental researcher, as saying.

Citing a recent environmental report, Zhong added that related waters inshore, including the mouth of the Pearl River, had been found to be contaminated with cadmium, arsenic and copper.

Pollutants discharged to the sea via the Pearl River reached 2 million tons in 2005, Zhong said.

With current measures to control pollution not working, new policies to control discharges would be drafted, the China Daily quoted Guo Xingmin, an official with the province's sea and fishing administration, as saying.

Despite 66 fishing protection zones covering an area of 585,000 hectares, fishermen believe the pollution is contributing to dwindling catches, forcing them to trawl in more remote waters, the China Daily said.

"We have to go much further away now to fish," the China Daily quoted 57-year-old fisherman, Peng Chengzhang, as saying.

"Pollution is to blame," he said.

Guangdong's poor environmental report card comes ahead of a planned mass "swimathon" in provincial capital Guangzhou's stretch of the Pearl River.

The 10,000-strong swim was planned "to celebrate the better quality of the river", with Guangzhou mayor Zhang Guangning promising to sign up, the China Daily reported in March.

No date has been fixed.

In recent years, provincial and local governments have poured billions into cleaning up Guangdong's waters, but human development and highly polluting industries continue to take their toll.

Last December, water supplies in several Guangdong cities were hit by a toxic waste spill from a zinc smelter flowing along the North river.

The accident occurred within weeks of a chemical plant explosion in China's northern province of Heilongjiang that poured highly toxic benzene compounds into the Songhua River, endangering water supply for millions.

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