China Environmental News Digest

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Pollution probe to hit paper mill

Shanghai Daily Home
LOCAL environment authorities in a city of northwestern China have promised to investigate a paper mill which reportedly discharged 2,000 tons of unsafe waste water into the Yellow River, further threatening the pollution-ridden waterway.

Early last week, tipsters told a local newspaper that the Baimei Paper Co in Lanzhou, capital city of Gansu Province, discharged a large amount of reddish brown, foaming waste water, likely untreated sewage, into the Wanchuan Creek, a tributary of the Yellow River.

The obviously colored waste water floated down the creek for more than 40 kilometers and eventually spilled into the Yellow River, according to the report. The newspaper said the waste water from the paper mill produced a slightly irritating smell.

Some nearby residents said the company was put on a blacklist of the State Environmental Protection Administration in February because of reported breaches of environmental regulations.

Qiang Fengzheng, an engineer in charge of the company's waste water treatment, said the reddish brown sewage discharged by the paper mill was normal.

Oxygen tests

Qiang noted environmental authorities mainly monitor the value of chemical oxygen demand, a test to measure the ability of waste water to sustain aquatic life, in a paper mill's discharge. Since the company was blacklisted in February, the company has invested heavily in new pollution treatment facilities, he said.

The company also installed an automatic COD monitoring device, Qiang added. But device records showed the COD value did not meet national standards most of the time from October 1 to Friday, the newspaper said.

The engineer explained the company was still in its trial production phase, and its pollution treatment facilities have not yet passed environmental authorities' check.

The engineer said the company discharges about 2,000 tons of waste water every day.

An official surnamed Kang of Lanzhou's environment administration said paper mills are among the enterprises most prone to causing pollution. Besides COD values, authorities test sewage discharge for a list of other standards.

Kang said the administration will launch an investigation immediately to determine if the company should be blamed for illegal discharge.

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