Major environmental events in 2009 in China
The environment was a hot topic in China in 2009. Here is a roundup of major events that happened.
1. Corruption in water pollution treatment project
Seven provinces embezzled 403 million yuan ($59 million) from the funds for water pollution treatment project involving 13 provinces, according to a report released by the National Audit Office on November 28. Nine provinces, including municipalities and autonomous regions failed to pay 2.14 billion yuan ($313.32 million) for sewage disposal.
The project was originally launched to deal with the pollution in the Liaohe River, Haihe River, Huaihe River, Taihu Lake, Chaohu Lake and Dianchi Lake. But in the past six years with over 8,000 programs, there as been no improvement seen in the water quality of these water bodies.
2. Photographer of "Pollution in China" unveils the reality of environmental pollution
This photo was taken in Cihu Chemical Industry District, Anhui Province on June 18, 2009. An underground pipe was built to discharge wastewater into the Yangtze River. The wastewater was black, gray, dark red, or yellow.
Lu Guang, a Chinese freelance photographer won the prestigious W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography with his collection of pictures entitled "Pollution in China" on November 14. His work reveals the serious problem of pollution in China and the health hazards they cause on local residents.
3. BASF's potentially polluted program near the Three Gorges Dam
BASF, the largest chemical company in the world, received the permit from the Ministry of Environmental Protection on September 28 to start its MDI (methyl diphenylene diisocyanate) program nearby the reservoir of the Three Gorges Dam in Chongqing.
MDI, a toxic chemical can cause serious pollution to the environment once leaked, is used in most of the company's production lines.
Although BASF publicly claimed that all the equipment meet the strictest security standards and the program will be based on BASF's 10-year experience, technology and abundant capital, Ren Majun, director of Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, still believed that once the program is expanded, it is hard to guarantee "zero pollution" in this area.
4. 600 children near smelting company tested with high levels of lead in NW China
More than 600 children living nearby a smelting company in northwest China's Shaanxi Province showed abnormally high blood lead levels.
Dongling Group should take primary responsibility in this case, according to Han Qin, head of the Baoji environment monitoring team.
The smelting plant belongs to Dongling Group, one of the biggest private companies in Shaanxi Province. The plant in Changqing town produced 100,000 tons of lead and zinc and 700,000 tons of coke annually. It directly accounted for 17 percent of the county's GDP last year.
Its general manager Sun Hong said the county government had pledged, in a deal reached before the plant was opened, to relocate all residents living within a radius of 500 meters in three years.
Local authorities ordered the closure of the smelting plant August 6, about two weeks after the first lead poisoning case was reported in 6-year-old Miao Fan.
5. 1,000 children tested with high levels of lead in central China
The blood tests of 968 children out of 2,747 under the age of 14 in China's biggest lead smelting base have shown excessive levels of lead in their bodies.
The health bureau of Jiyuan City, in central Henan Province, initiated the tests after a lead poisoning scandal was exposed in neighboring Shaanxi Province.
The city government has suspended production at 32 of the 35 electrolytic lead plants and on the pollution-prone production lines of the other three major factories.
All children living within 1,000 meters of the smelters had been moved away, with allowances and assistance in education provided by the government.
6. Residents protest incinerator project
Local residents in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province hold up slogans in front of a government office building on November 23 to protest against the local government's plan to build incinerators near where they live.
Opposition to a planned incinerator project in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province intensified after hundreds of people staged a protest outside a government office on November 23, demonstrators said.
The 900 million yuan ($132 million) project is being built to replace a refuse landfill that is almost full.
Though the government said the plant would be safe and use internationally advanced equipment, many residents are concerned about the potential health hazards of dioxin emissions, a toxic chemical which can cause cancer in the human body.
The project was halted on December 10 to consider new plans.
Meanwhile, residents were asked to sort their garbage to help with recycling and cut down on the amount of waste in the landfill.