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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Monday, February 27, 2006

Public can help environment

China Daily 2006-02-27 05:28

Institutional construction is needed to guarantee public participation in environmental protection, says a commentary in Dazhong Daily. An excerpt follows:

The State Environment Protection Administration (SEPA) last week released a set of guidelines on public participation in environmental impact assessment, encouraging direct involvement from the general public in the country's environmental affairs.

This is the first official document on public involvement in the environmental sector, which will make government decisions in the sector more transparent and democratic.

Last year, a series of environment issues plunged SEPA into an administrative accountability storm. The issues include a construction project that could lead to an ecological disaster in the Old Summer Palace in Beijing, water pollution in the Songhua River and disputes over the construction of a dam on the Nujiang River. Then came the "environment impact assessment storm," which showed the efforts made by the government in this aspect.

Although there are some articles on public involvement in the Environment Impact Assessment Law, they are very ambiguous and not practical. The provisional measures give specific arrangement procedures. It gives recognition and respect to the public right to environment participation, and also shows the government's open mind for better environment protection.

But such a right of participation is still partial in the assessment stage. There is still a lack of arrangements in the policy-making and law-enforcement phases.

In a modern society, every citizen has a right to live in a good environment. Citizens should be able to participate based on their rights to know.

Making such provisional measures is a good way to realize citizens' right to participate. But more should be included, such as citizens' rights to participate in law-making, policy-making and law-enforcement. There should be an open mechanism to provide environment information, and a democratic system encouraging the public to participate in decision-making concerning the environment.

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Russia, China to conduct joint pollution monitoring in Far East

26/02/2006 12:55 KHABAROVSK, February 26 (RIA Novosti, Larisa Dokuchayeva) - Russia's Far Eastern authorities signed an agreement with China Sunday on joint monitoring of the Songhua and Amur cross-border rivers where a chemical spillover occurred late last year, a local official said.

The official within the administration of the Khabarovsk Territory, bordering on China, said the agreement, aimed at quick response to possible pollution was signed by the territory's natural resources minister and a Chinese official from the country's State and Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA).

The spokesman said a Russian delegation would go to China this week to make measurements of chemicals in the Songhua River in three stages: before, during and after ice drift.

The document follows a Russian-Chinese agreement on joint monitoring of cross-border waterways, signed February 22 in Beijing by Russia's Natural Resources Minister, Yury Trutnev, and SEPA's head Zhou Shengxian.

China and Russia have stepped up bilateral cooperation in environmental protection in the wake of a major explosion at a chemical factory in northeast China November 13 that led to about 100 tons of chemicals, including potentially lethal benzene, spilling into the Songhua River, a tributary of the Amur.

The 200-km toxic slick in the Amur River flowed for hundreds of miles along the Songhua River until it reached the Amur on the China-Russia border and passed Russia's major Far Eastern cities of Komsomolsk-on-Amur and Khabarovsk, home to about 600,000 people, causing a major environmental safety concern in the region.

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Gansu to invest 5b yuan in treating Yellow River pollution

Feb. 26 (Xinhuanet) -- Northwest China's Gansu Province has planned to invest nearly 5 billion yuan( 620 million U.S. dollars) by 2010 to treat water pollution of the Yellow River's section in the province.

province has mapped out a five-year plan for water pollution prevention and treatment, said a source with the provincial environment bureau.

2006 to 2010, the province will carry out 199 projects with a total investment of 4.97 billion yuan, involving treatment of industrial and domestic sewage, and the enhancement of environmental monitoring, the plan said.

from the bureau show that 237 million tons of waste water, including both industrial and domestic sewage, flows into the river in Gansu every year.

Yellow River, China's second largest river with a length of 5,464 kilometers, runs in Gansu Province for 913 kilometers.

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Take your leftovers please

SHANGHAI, Feb. 26 (Xinhuanet) -- "You've ordered too many dishes for five people, sir. Why not forget about the last one?" said a waitress at a Shanghai restaurant. The embarrassed diner nodded his agreement.

another table, a waitress brought the customers two lunch boxes for them to take away the leftovers. The drive to cut down unnecessary waste in Shanghai's restaurants is under way.

day, we collect two huge vats of leftovers from the tables - 30 kilos at least," said Liu Dafeng, manager of Shanghai Families, a chain restaurant. "About 30 percent of the food is never touched."

restaurant has joined hands with a Republic of Korea company to provide diners with pollution-free lunch boxes free of charge so that they can take their leftovers away.

Liu said they still have difficulties in persuading some diners to order "just enough", because Chinese people traditionally feel it is a loss of face for the host if nothing is left at the end of the meal.

recent survey shows 81 percent of Chinese diners cannot finish all their food, but 28 percent never take their leftovers home. Fifty-three percent said they consider taking the food away only when there's too much food left.

survey also found that men aged between 30 and 40 are the most extravagant at dinner tables: they order excessively and don't take away the leftovers.

many people tend to spend lavishly when treating clients, a dinner out with the family is often more economical.

80 to 90 percent of the diners who ate at Liu's restaurant with their families to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year, which fell on Jan. 29, readily took their leftovers home.

food and beverage sector reported 748.6 billion yuan (93.6 billion U.S. dollars) of retail sales in 2005, about 7 percent of the country's GDP. This year, the figure is expected to top 1 trillion yuan (125 billion U.S. dollars).

no official statistics are available, insiders say the Chinese are probably wasting 60 billion yuan (7.5 billion U.S. dollars) a year at hotels and restaurants.

Shanghai alone, the food and beverage sector is producing at least 1,100 tons of wasted food every day, a fact that hinders China's move to build an environmentally-friendly society.

decided the restaurateurs should have the final say -- they can tell the diners to order just enough and take away whatever they cannot finish," said Shen Yonglin, an official with Shanghai Municipal Environment Protection Bureau.

in 2002, the bureau has launched a "green consumption” campaign in the food and beverage sector, encouraging restaurants to phase out disposable chopsticks and foam lunch boxes that harm the environment.

the end of 2005, the city had nurtured 43 "green restaurants" that willingly persuade their customers not to order excessive amounts and use only pollution-free lunch boxes, though these are several times the cost of non-degradable foam boxes, said Duan Fugen, secretary-general of Shanghai Food and Beverage Association.

Green measures to safely dispose of medical waste

BEIJING, Feb. 25 -- A large-scale environmentally friendly project for the disposal of medical waste will be carried out under the co-operation of the country's top environmental watchdog and the international community.

project will cost around US$45 million, nearly half of which will come from the Global Environment Facility.

to run for four years, the project aims to reduce the production of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) during the disposal of medical waste by improving the current treatment facilities and establishing new advanced services.

to figures from the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), China now produces more than 1,500 tons of medical waste a day, and this figure is likely to rise. Experts say if SEPA does not consider the reduction of POPs, it may lead to a serious pollution risk, especially in levels of dioxin.

the country's treatment facilities mainly use combustion techniques.

according to my investigation, most of the country's 171 incinerators for medical waste do not reach the correct standards for pollution control," said Wu Shunze from the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning.

solving the pollution problem, the State Council ratified SEPA and the National Development and Reform Commission to compile the "Hazardous Waste and Medical Waste Treatment Facility Construction Plan."

we now have regulations on how to treat medical waste, there are still many difficulties since the plan is not very practical or complete, " said Wu Yinghong from the Ministry of Health.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Protection of environment job for all

February 24, 2006, Via China Daily

China has made great progress in its environmental protection thanks to the joint efforts of the government and the public, said Gerd Leipold, the global executive director of Greenpeace.

But he also urged that the Chinese Government should take a more serious view on climate changes by promoting the use of renewable energy.

Leipold has been in Beijing this week to attend a forum about corporate social responsibility.

"Currently China has a much stronger environmental awareness among politicians, academic people, journalists, young people especially students and the population in general," Leipold said.

"The government is excellent when it comes to environmental protection. For example, the response to the chemical spill in the Songhua River last year was very impressive.

"China's environmental legislation, compared with that of other countries, is quite good, and the enforcement is also good."

Greenpeace, one of the most influential environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the world, lists China as one of the most strategically important countries in the world.

"It is not only because of China's fast growth," Leipold said, "but also because it is a test case of whether another model of development could succeed.

"If China follows the old Western model of first getting rich by exploiting its environment and then using the wealth to make up for the damage, it will have disastrous consequences."

Leipold called climate change one of the greatest threats to the planet today.

To that end, he said that China took a positive step by holding a large renewable energy conference last year, but needs to do more. And Greenpeace can help the country by providing more information.

Leipold also urged enterprises in China to pursue not only quality in manufacturing but also environmentally friendly processes for the sake of Chinese people's health and the environment.

Last year, Greenpeace urged international food companies not to use genetically modified materials and pushed IT companies to promise not to use toxic materials.

"Greenpeace China has played an increasingly important role in the country these years," said Deng Guosheng, director of the NGO Research Centre at Tsinghua University.

"Although it took some aggressive measures when it entered China, it has shifted its focus to strengthening co-operation with the government and winning trust from consumers. Since Greenpeace insists on not accepting support from companies, it can be very independent and take tough action against them if it finds they are destroying the environment."

Environment Ministry to toughen curbs on electronic waste trade

Friday February 24, 4:40 AM

The Ministry of the Environment on Friday decided to tighten control over the trade of discarded computers and other electronic wastes to prevent them from being sold under the guise of used products by working with the Hong Kong government.

The ministry plans to draft guidelines that include stricter provisions requiring waste dealers to apply the same strict standard as they do on regular waste when they handle used computers with little service life.

The guidelines aim to prevent electronic wastes from triggering environmental pollution in China after they were brought via Hong Kong under the guise of used products, which are less strictly regulated.

The ministry will report on the guidelines at an international recycling conference in Tokyo next month and will call on Asian countries to utilize the guidelines.

The guidelines call for the environment minister to check whether used computers can be recycled in recipient countries before exporting them.

The guidelines also specify what level of toxic materials contained in electronic wastes, such as lead, make them subject to the governmental control in order to help unify varying standards among Japan and other countries.

Chinese winemaker dumps waste in river, triggering new pollution scare

Written by AP
Thursday, 23 February 2006
BEIJING (AP) _ A winemaker caused a public health scare when it dumped waste from its wine production into a river in northeastern China, three months after the area suffered a massive chemical spill, a news report said Thursday.

Officials in Mudanjiang, a city in Heilongjiang province, were alarmed after finding a flaky substance blocking an inlet of a water plant that supplies water to 80 percent of the city's 80,000 population, the official China Daily newspaper said.

An investigation revealed the substance was not chemical pollution but lees _ dead yeast cells, grape seeds and skins leftover after making wine _ dumped into the Hailang River by the Linhai Xueyuan Food Company Ltd., the paper said. The Hailang feeds into the water plant.

Warm weather had caused microorganisms in the lees to multiply, worsening the pollution, the paper said.

Officials claim the microorganisms are harmless but have used purifiers and chlorine to clean the water as a precaution, it said.

The winemaker has been ordered to suspend its operations, the paper said. The report did not say whether it would face fines or other penalties.

In November, a spill of benzene into the nearby Songhua River forced authorities to cut water supplies to millions in Jilin, Heilongjiang, and Russia. The incident triggered a nationwide crackdown on industrial polluters.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

EU commits 40 mln eur to China energy, environment project

BEIJING (AFX) - The European Union (EU) will contribute 40 mln eur to China for a program focused on energy and the environment, EU energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs said.

He also told media in Beijing that the EU will contribute 5.0 mln eur for a phase one feasibiltiy study for near zero emission power plant projects in China under a memorandum of understanding signed with the Chinese government.

Piebalgs met with Chinese officials from the National Development and Reform Commission today and said that both sides agreed on the need for a collective response on the issues of the security of global energy supply and climate change.

"I am glad that during my visit in the meetings with Chinese officials we have agreed on these two important challenges that we should address in a common way," he said.

He added that the EU and China will cooperate in the areas of energy efficiency and renewable energy.

He said the EU would lend its expertise in regulatory frameworks meant to encourage progress in these areas.

He said he discussed with Chinese officials the crucial role that markets should play in securing global energy supply.

"We agree that markets are the best way to answer the challenges of security of supply," he said, adding that markets should be transparent.

China is taking steps towards liberalizing its eletricity market, he said, but noted that there is a need for third party access to networks, as well as liberalization in the generation and supply sectors.

He also said his Chinese counterparts agreed that nuclear energy should play some role in China's energy mix, but that it is "not placed at the top of the agenda."

Piebalgs said he believes nucler energy should play a "substantial part" of the EU's energy mix.

China detains man for spreading pollution rumours

BEIJING, Feb 23 (Reuters) - China, which this week warned officials they would be punished for covering up pollution, has detained a man after he sent text messages telling people of a new case of water pollution, media reported on Thursday. Zhou Qinghai was detained by police for "reporting faulty alarms and making chaos" in Mudanjiang in northeastern Heilongjiang province, the scene of the country's worst water pollution in recent years after an explosion at a chemical pant in November in neighbouring Jilin. Zhou sent text messages warning people of a possible water cutoff for three or four days after he overheard people talking on a bus about the contamination of the city water source and saw reports by local media questioning the quality of water, the Beijing News said. He was detained this week, the newspaper said, without saying if he would be charged or giving other details. The "faulty information" had caused "bad social influence", and city residents had been rushing to buy and store water since Monday after an unidentified pollutant was found in the water supply. Xinhua news agency later identified it as a fungus caused by industrial waste. But the taps had not been turned off in the city as water samples had shown the supply to be normal, it added. Environmental degradation, from filthy air in the cities to toxic slicks in the rivers, has become one of the key issues sparkling social unrest in China. In a recent survey, respondents said they were "most dissatisfied" about the lack of communication between the government and the people over the environment, the Beijing Youth Daily said. In one of the worst accidents, the Jilin government reported river pollution a full three days after the blast at a chemical plant, which caused cancer-causing benzene compounds to leak into a major river. It led to the turning off of taps in cities and towns in Heilongjiang province, as well as emergency measures in neighbouring Russia. Xie Zhenhua, the former head of China's environmental watchdog, was forced to resign for failing to report and monitor the spill.

Public to help assess impact on environment

Source: China Daily UPDATED: 09:20, February 23, 2006

Chinese residents will be informed what will happen to their environment before a new project is launched and may offer input to a proposal as part of the project's environmental impact assessment (EIA).

Those two provisional measures on public participation in EIAs were released yesterday in Beijing by the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA). As the first special measures in this field, they will take effect on March 18.

The public may take part in the EIA by answering an EIA questionnaire, consulting experts, or participating in a symposium or public hearing, according to the measures.

And the project contractors are required to provide the public with details of how construction could influence the environment and what preventive measures they have taken.

In addition, as EIA reports can contain complicated language and jargon, a simplified version for the public will be supplied.

"Currently the country's EIA system mostly depends on administrative measures, but suffers a lack of a public surveillance," said Pan Yue, vice- minister of SEPA, in charge of EIA.

"Although there are some articles about the public involvement in the EIA Law, they are very ambiguous and not practical. The provisional measures just fill in the gap."

Last year, SEPA held a public hearing on Yuanmingyuan (old Summer Palace) project to cover its lake beds with impermeable covers, presumably to conserve water. To date, it has been the first and only public hearing.

"The hearing not only strengthened the awareness of the public participation, but also helped the government to improve its policy making and credibility," Pan said.

"We want to introduce the successful experiences into EIA by releasing and enforcing the provisional measures."

Wang Yongchen, founder of Green Earth Volunteers, one of the influential environmental non-governmental organizations in China, said: "I hope that the measures can be spread to every corner of China, especially in some remote areas, to wake up local people's awareness of protecting the environment."

Wang is investigating the public participation in EIA in Southwest China's YunanProvince, where a dam is planned to be built on Nujiang River. She said few local residents know about how their lives would be changed by establishment of the dam, let alone the law regarding EIA.

"It is a big step of legislation to push forward the public participation in environmental cause," said Xu Kezhu, associate professor in China University of Political Science and Law.

Herding ban in plain to protect environment

By Li Fangchao (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-02-23 05:34

HARBIN: The idyllic image of cows and sheep grazing leisurely in a part of Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province is set to be a thing of the past in a bid to improve ecological conditions.

The agricultural province is on its way to a total ban of herding on Songnen Plain, where the majority of the province's stockbreeding industry lies.

It has mapped out plans to gradually reduce the herding area on the stretch of land until a complete ban comes into force in 2008 to protect the ecological condition of the vast grassland.

Years of arbitrary use is creating huge sandy areas. About 200,000 hectares of grassland are facing the danger of total environment deterioration, according the grassland office of the Heilongjiang Provincial Stockbreeding Bureau.

"We realized that it is the time to let the grassland have a good rest, or risk losing it forever," said Wu Binsheng, an official from the bureau.

This year's goal is to ban herding on 70 per cent of the 1.86 million hectares of grassland on the plain.

Wu said that several pilot schemes in areas have achieved success in encouraging local farmers to enclose their animals, such as Daqing of the province, which is located in the centre of the plain.

"On one hand, it is conducive to environment protection, and on the other hand it is the sustainable way that we should adopt in the future," he said.

As a large agricultural province, Heilongjiang's plantation structure needs huge adjustment to fit in with the current development of the prospering stockbreeding industry, say farming experts.

The province's 1.2 million cows needs the yields of 160,000 hectares of ensile, but the province only has 100,000 hectares now.

"Planting ensile and other pastoral grass brings more economic benefits in the long run," said Zhang Yuexue, an expert from the Heilongjiang Agricultural Science Institute.

Zhang said that luckily the province has realized the problem and was encouraging more farmers to grow ensile with subsidies.

Ma Yingjun, a government official in Duer'bote County, Daqing, said Daguang Village where he lives, was nearly abandoned by all of its residents four years ago because of encroaching sand from too much herding.

"Before, we had to cover our heads to prevent the flying sand beating our faces on a windy day," he said, "Now we have the grass and trees back, and all the people back."

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Tibet environment protector awarded China's top environmental prize

BEIJING, Feb. 21 (Xinhuanet) -- Chinese Vice Minister of Railways Sun Yongfu has been awarded the China Environment Prize for his arduous efforts in protecting the environment along the new Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the highest railway in the world.

received the prize at a grand ceremony held in Beijing on Tuesday together with four other winners, including three coal mining companies and Shi Zhenhua, head of the Jiangsu provincial environment watchdog.

deputy head of the leading group in charge of Qinghai-Tibet Railway Construction, Sun put forward the guiding principle of giving top priority to environment protection in building the railway before the project was kicked off.

the construction, Sun made great efforts to ensure that the fragile environment was effectively conserved.

Qinghai-Tibet railway, stretching from Qinghai Province to Lhasa, capital of Tibet, was completed in October last year and isexpected to go on trial operation in coming July.

other four winners were honored due to their outstanding contributions to clean production, urban environmental conservation, pollution control and remarkable improvement of environment in Jiangsu Province.

FEATURE-China faces uphill battle to turn its growth Green

21 Feb 2006 01:31:13 GMT,Source: Reuters

Residents of the 2008 Olympic Games host city watch the air quality index like they do the weather forecast. POLLUTION RIOTS By Lindsay Beck BEIJING, Feb 21 (Reuters) - There are days in Beijing the smog is so thick residents can stare straight at the sun. Some Chinese cities may dazzle with gleaming skyscrapers and some rural backwaters have been transformed into industrial hubs, but more than two decades of 9.5 percent annual growth have come at a cost. Now the country is trying to calculate exactly what price it is paying for choking smog, poisoned rivers and toxic waste, floating the concept of a "Green GDP" index likely to be debated at the annual parliament session that convenes on March 5. "Green GDP deducts ecological and environmental losses. It is able to more fully test and measure the quality of economic development and avoid false achievements," Pan Yue, deputy chief of China's environment body and its most outspoken green crusader, said in an interview with local media. It's an idea that fits with the model of development that the leadership under President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao has been trying to project, one of tempering the pace of economic growth with a focus on balanced growth. The changes are likely to be tough to implement. Local leaders are accustomed to being judged on growth above all else and would be fearful that stricter environmental controls would impact their bottom line. A first step, analysts say, is establishing a system of green accounting to get a more accurate idea of the costs associated with degradation. "It is evident to any thinking person that things need to be changed. What is not clear is what strategy to use," said Andres Liebenthal, an environment specialist at the World Bank. A number of pilot projects are under way to test green accounting systems, but there are a whole series of instruments that could be adjusted if a complete green GDP system were adopted, including pricing systems and natural resource taxes. "The price of water only reflects the transport and treatment, for example, not the scarcity value or the costs associated with pollution," said Liebenthal. GREEN OFFICIALS While Green GDP is an idea popular with top leaders trying to keep a growing gap between rich and poor in check and counter social instability, it is also likely to be less appealing to local officials after investment dollars and tax revenues. The government is trying to change that, with wide-ranging regulations that aim to integrate environmental losses into the measurement of regional development -- and into the evaluation of local officials. "If you really want to change, you need to develop a system in which the environment is a parameter that plays a more and more important role in the status or evaluation of local officials' behaviour," said Zhang Jianyu, China manager of U.S.-based Environmental Defense. But with China home to 20 of the world's 30 most smog-choked cities, with some 400,000 premature deaths a year linked to air pollution and with degradation a frequent cause of riots, the need to transform near-daily pledges to clean up the environment into action is becoming ever more acute. "Estimates maintain that 7 percent annual growth is required to preserve social stability. Yet the costs of pollution are already taxing the economy between 8 and 12 percent of GDP per year," Nathan Nankivell, a researcher at Canada's Department of National Defence, wrote in a recent report. In the Zhejiang town of Xinchang, it took a riot to shut down a local factory that had been dumping its waste into the river. The factory may have provided revenue to local authorities, but the question for residents was at what cost. "The situation has been better since the protest but of course there has still been a negative impact on us. Just look at the crops," said one resident surnamed Song, gesturing toward the poisoned fields from the window of her small shop. The Xinchang protest was one of three riots in Zhejiang alone last year over pollution. Across the country, China has earmarked $3.3 billion to clean up the Songhua River in the northeast, poisoned last November after an explosion at a chemical plant caused a toxic spill that contaminated drinking water supplies for millions. Economists vary on just how much environmental woes are costing. The World Bank estimates air and water pollution cost China about 8 percent of GDP. But different provinces may have vastly different costs. For example, in Shanxi -- China's top coal-producing province -- if environmental degradation and pollution were incorporated into GDP calculations, they would negate all growth for the past decade, a Deutsche Bank report cites officials there as saying. Despite the economic imperative, analysts say China's environmental leaders are likely to have a tough sell ahead of them to make Green GDP a meaningful policy. "It's a very good idea," said Environmental Defense's Zhang. "But the practicality of that and how applicable it is in local situations is something very hard to do."

Russia and China to conduct joint monitoring of water quality in trans-border objects

On February 21, Minister of Natural Resources (MNR) of Russia Yuri Trutnev met the head of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) Zhou Shengxian, after which sides plan to sign a memorandum between MNR and SEPA on joint monitoring of water quality at trans-border objects, that will lead to lowering of pollution to water objects situated near Russian-Chinese border.

Analysis, conducted in 2002-2005 at Amur River, demonstrate negative influence of Songhua River to Amur pollution, because chemical composition of Amur water before and after the emptying of Songhua demonstrate worsening of oxygen regime, increase of oil products, and other toxins.

Negative influence of Chinese pollution can be also seen near Khabarovsk, 220 km far from point where Songhua meets Amur. It leads to lowering of fish resources and its worsening.

Previously, all information about Chinese toxins emissions in water was closed. For example, after a crash at Chinese Jilin Petroleum and Chemical Company at Songhua, that took place on November 13, 2005, Russian side received corresponding information only in fall November.

According to preliminary information, Chinese share in total amount of wastewater in Amur River is 75%, rising to 98% near Ussuri River.

After the signing the memorandum, the Russian side will systematically receive information about pollution in trans-border water objects in the Chinese territory.

Scientists use plants to clean area of polluted soil

BEIJING, Feb. 21 (Xinhuanet) -- Chinese scientists are improving the technology to "suck up" poisonous elements, mostly heavy metals like arsenic, copper and zinc, from polluted soil to repair contaminated lands.

some parts of China, scientists have grown poison-accumulating plants, widely regarded as a "hyperaccumulators" in academic circles, in poisonous soil to accumulate heavy metals, which are to be recycled and further processed into useful industrial materials, said Chen Tongbin, a senior researcher with the Geographic Science and Resources Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), in an exclusive interview with Xinhua on Tuesday.

research team has begun to renovate more than 5,000 mu (about 333.3 hectares) of arsenic polluted fields in south China'sHuanjiang County, Hechi City of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

said when floods occur in south China's Yunnan and Guangxi,water containing minerals at the upper reaches of rivers always pollute lower watercourses, causing crop losses or even infertility in large area of lower-reach fields.

5,000-mu soil pollution in Guangxi is serious. Soil contamination is the most dangerous because it is hidden, slow and fundamental," said Chen.

is leading the research on soil recovery technology, whichis funded by the state high technology advancement plan and was initiated in March 1986 and is known as the 863 Program.

global leader in technology for collecting arsenic from soil,Chen's team proved that a brake fern widely found in southern China, with the scientific name of Pteris vittata L., has a strongability to draw arsenic from the soil.

density in the mature plant's leaves averages 0.8 percent, a far cry from organic nutrients of nitrogen and phosphorous," said Chen who started a search for the poison-accumulating plant in 1997 throughout the country.

plant could survive a heavily polluted environment with arsenic density of three percent," said Chen, citing that it must be very useful for soil recovery in China's high arsenic concentration areas like Chenzhou in central China's Hunan Province, as well as southwest China's Guizhou Province and north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, where a large area of arsenic pollution.

the 1980s, global scientists have blazed a new way in cleaning polluted soil with hyperaccumulators. Decontamination by plants and recycling technologies will make heavy industries less environmentally damaging.

is estimated that soil recovery technologies through plants might have a market worth 2 billion US dollars. "It's proven that the hyperaccumulators are the best possible choice for soil recovery," Chen said.

team has zeroed in on 16 such hyperaccumulators which were all found in China, by means of a field survey and greenhouse cultivation. Meanwhile, they have developed several additives which might strengthen their poison collecting abilities, Chen said.

to Chen's research, poisonous arsenic accumulated by the plant can be stored in a safe place within the brake fern's body which exerts little influence on the overall growth of the plant.

team leads the world by using techniques and equipment like simultaneous-radiation and ESEM, an electron microscope, to analyse directly on live plants why hyperaccumulators can sustain huge densities of poisonous elements.

has called for intensified government effort to alert the public to the danger of soil contamination and promote legislationin this regard.

the Law on Prevention of Soil Contamination drafted by China's State Council and aimed at legally binding on practicescausing soil contamination, is about to be submitted to the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, for deliberation

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

China warns officials against covering up pollution

Reuters,BEIJING - China has warned local environmental protection officials that they will be punished if they allow or cover up damage to the environment in favor of economic growth, state media said on Tuesday.

China has been struck by a steady string of environmental crises, including a river pollution case that left millions in northeast China without drinking water for days, and degradation of the environment has become an issue threatening growth, social stability and public health.

"China's environmental problems will be four or five times as bad 15 years from now if it continues in current energy consumption and pollution trends," Zhang Jianyu, a visiting scholar at Tsinghua University, told the China Daily.

A new regulation that took effect on Monday set out penalties for officials who approved projects that had not passed environmental impact assessments, improperly cut or canceled fees for industry waste discharge, held back or falsified reports or tried to cover up accidents, the China Daily reported.

"By cracking down on corruption and environmental destruction, we are correcting the wrong principle of pursuing fast economic growth by sacrificing environmental quality -- which is a principle held by some local officials," Liu Yufu, vice minister of supervision, was quoted as saying.

The State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) has struggled to get regional officials, under pressure to spur economic growth, to comply with its policies, and the new punishment rules may be no different.

"SEPA is busy handling highly frequent environmental accidents. It is hard for SEPA to spare more manpower and resources into pushing the regulation to every corner of the country," Zhang told the newspaper.

Earlier this month, the watchdog named and shamed 11 companies for heavy pollution from their factories and told them to clean up offending projects or face closure and fines.

The southern boomtown of Guangzhou has followed up on that policy by ordering nine major local factories, including a chemical plant on SEPA's blacklist, to move away from the city center to reduce pollution, the newspaper said.

Water pollution has become a major national concern since a blast at a chemical plant in November poured cancer-causing benzene compounds into northeast China's Songhua River, forcing water supplies to be cut off to millions.

The head of SEPA was forced to resign after the spill, which became an international incident as the river flows into Russia.

But a string of similar accidents have been reported since the Songhua crisis, the latest a release of toxic chemicals into a river in southwest Sichuan province that has disrupted water supplies to 20,000 people since last week.

Chinese Pollution Making Korean Rain More Acidic

By Lee Hyo-sik ,Staff Reporter,Via Korea Times

An increasing amount of air pollutants traveling from China has turned rain falling in the Korean Peninsula more acidic over the years.

The National Institute of Environmental Research (NIER) reported Monday that rainfall in Seoul recorded a pH of 4.4 on average last year, the most acidic since 1992. The rainfall recorded a pH of 4.5 in 2004.

A pH (potential of hydrogen) measures an acidity of precipitation. A pH of less than 7 indicates that it is an acid, and a pH of more than 7 indicates that it is an alkali.

Other cities also saw their rainfall become more acidic last year. The rain fell in Inchon recorded a pH of 4.5 in 2005, turning more acidic than a pH of 4.7 a year before, while Taejon had a pH of 4.6.

Pollutants such as sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides are the main culprits for acid rain, as people are using more petroleum and coal in urbanization and industrialization.

Acid rain happens when these chemical substances released into the atmosphere mix with water, oxygen and other chemicals. The mixture turns into acid rain.

``Chinese manufacturers and power plants consuming fossil fuels, such as coal and petroleum, are emitting more air-pollutants that trigger acid rain amid the rapid industrialization over the past decades,’’ a NIER researcher said.

``The problem is that a large portion of these pollutants, including sulfur oxides, are flowing toward the Korean Peninsula on the west-bound winds, making rainfall here more acidic,’’ he added.

He advised that residents of large cities exercise precautions not to get wet in the rain and always carry an umbrella.

The NIER said last year that more than 20 percent of sulfur oxides or 93,509 tons of a total of 465,000 tons, that accumulated in Korea in the year of 1998 were found to have originated from China.

Acid rain is known to cause a wide array of skin diseases particularly in the elderly and children, while causing disruption in the ecosystem and corroding buildings.

China to Trounce Civil Servants Violating Environmental Laws

2006-02-20 17:38:45

China’s environmental protection authority says the country will enact stricter punishments on civil servants who violate environmental laws and regulations.

The State Environmental Protection Administration has made the announcement Monday in Beijing. The administration and the Ministry of Supervision have jointly issued a set of regulations concerning punishments for civil servants who violate environmental policies.

According to the regulations, officials who violate any of the 30 plus environmental protection rules will be punished.

Violations listed in the regulations include inappropriate or unlawful approval of environmental issues, sheltering enterprises that produce heavy pollution, and failure to report environmental pollution disasters.

Four uncertainties threatening water resources in China

UPDATED: 16:45, February 20, 2006 Via People`s Daily

"The development of water resources in China is very demanding and the situation quite serious. Aridity, waterlogging, water pollution as well as soil erosion are four major problems threatening the development of water resources in China," pointed out Wang Shucheng, minister of water resources during an interview on Feb. 19.

The contradiction between the lack of water resources and the increasing demand of water by economic and social development becomes more and more troublesome. The per capita water resources in China is 2,200 cubic meters, equivalent to one quarter of the world's average level. The water deficit in normal years across the country approximates 40 billion cubic meters.

Additionally, the exploitation and utilisation of water resources in some valleys and regions has approached or even exceed the water environment's bearing capacity.

Along with the social and economic development and the upgrading of people's living standard, the demand on water resources is also on the rise. However, the development and utilisation of water resources as well as the harnessing of rives have become more and more difficult. And the shortage of water resources will aggravate with each passing day.

The contradiction between the fragile flood prevention system and the safeguarding of people's lives and property is a problem that requires immediate attention. Over half of major branches of great rivers and small rivers are still yet to be effectively harnessed. The construction of pondage land and detention basin is rather backward and the monitoring and prevention level of such natural disasters as flooding and landslide fall behind. Flooding, which takes heavy death tolls and causes property loss every year, is still a serious hidden trouble in China.

The contradiction between heavy water pollution, soil erosion and sustainable development becomes prominent. The total amount of sewage discharge nationwide is climbing year on year, seriously polluting the lakes and rivers and hampering the improvement of general water environment.

Soil erosion and ecological deterioration have not been fundamentally controlled. Over-exploitation of groundwater has resulted in the zero-flow of rivers, drying of lakes, shrinking of wetland as well as disappearing of oasis in some regions, holding up the sustainable development.

The contradiction of the backwardness of rural water resources development and the building of a new socialist countryside is outstanding. The rural water conservancy infrastructure is fragile and one third of national irrigation areas are medium and low yielding corps. Meanwhile, many buildings in large irrigation areas are damaged and most of drainage and irrigation pumping stations old and broken.

Agricultural production in these areas still depends on the passive situation of "living on local weather conditions". So far the high-fluoride water and bitter water threaten farmers' health, and there are still millions of farmers inaccessible to safe drinking water.

Little water resources for a large population, imbalanced distribution of water resources as well as a bad relationship between water resources and economic and social development best illustrate the basic situation of water resources in China. Furthermore, the extensive economic growth pattern also aggravates the water problems and hinders its possible ways out.

Generally speaking, aridity, flooding, water pollution as well as soil erosion have both urgently demanded a well-balanced relationship between water resources and sustainable development and exposed the disadvantages of the long-term extensive economic growth pattern.

China toxic spill forces water supplies to be cut

Mon Feb 20, 1:44 AM ET Via Yahoo

A toxic chemical spill in southwest China has disrupted water supplies to 20,000 people since last week, a state newspaper said on Monday, the latest in a series of pollution incidents to hit the country.

A power plant on the upper reaches of the Yuexi River in Sichuan province was to blame for the pollution, which prompted environmental officials to suspend water supplies to Guanyin Town since last Wednesday, the official China Daily said.

Water was being trucked in to residents, but was unable to meet demand, it added.

Tests showed that the river had been polluted with chemicals including fluoride and nitrogen, the newspaper said.

Earlier this month, three tanks at a chemical company in the northwestern province of Shaanxi collapsed, discharging about 2,000 tons of alkaline waste into a river which flows into the Yellow River, China's second-longest.

In one of the worst incidents, water supplies to millions of people in northeastern China were suspended after a blast at a chemical plant in November caused cancer-causing benzene compounds to leak into a major river.

The chief of China's environment watchdog was forced to resign following that spill, which became an international incident as the river flows into Russia.

The Chinese government has promised to improve environmental safeguards and has spent billions of yuan on cleaning up the country's rivers, though experts warn some of it is mis-spent and ineffective.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Water gap outstrips flood threat

CHINA'S economic losses caused by water shortages are more than twice those resulting from flooding, a new report shows.

Lack of an adequate water supply led to an average 280 billion yuan (US$35 billion) in financial losses each year, according to the report, funded by the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology.

Researchers also warned that the lack of an adequate water supply will be a major impediment to the country's social and economic development over the next 30 years.

The report indicated that disputes over water supply, pollution and uneven distribution of water resources are challenging the government's goal to build a harmonious society.

Gao Zhong, a senior consultant on water resources, said China's administrative system is part of the problem. Responsibility is shared by the Ministry of Water Conservation, urban planning institutes, public affairs management departments and environmental protection agencies.

"Such an administrative structure weakens the government's power to manage water distribution, prevent pollution and conserve resources," Gao said.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

China: Shrinking Wetlands Underline China's Water Problem

By Breffni O'Rourke
China - Three Gorges Dam, 5 May 2005
The Three Gorges Dam (file photo)
Northern China, already short of water, is becoming drier still. But, despite the significant environmental, social, and political risks, analysts strike an optimistic note.

PRAGUE, 17 February 2006 -- China is on course for an acute water shortage that threatens to disrupt the country's social life and constrain its economic growth. In the populous and industrialized north, millions of people already live on one-third of the water internationally regarded as adequate. And now the fabled wetlands along the Haihe River are drying up, a serious blow to a haven of biodiversity.

The Haihe River draws its mighty stream from five tributaries that spread out like the fingers of a hand across northern China. As the Haihe rolls along, it feeds its life-giving waters to myriad swamps and water meadows.

"You cannot apply a wasteful Western lifestyle with limited water resources."

But all that is changing now. The 3,800 square kilometers of wetlands that existed a few decades ago have progressively shrunk to just over 500 square kilometers today. Chinese officials blame the drying-up on the demands made by the region's explosive economic growth and its rising population.

The story is the same over all of northern China. The region is an economic powerhouse, producing one-third of China's gross domestic product (GDP), and is home to just over one-third of the country's population.

But the north has less than 8 percent of the country's water resources. The result: Water supplies amount to only 500 cubic meters per person. That is far below the 1,700 cubic meters seen as the international benchmark for a water shortage. Some 300 cities are short of water, and things are expected to worsen over the next 25 years.

Thinking Big

What can be done to prevent the situation becoming a national crisis?

In keeping with the central government's inclination for mega-projects, work is under way on a huge project to divert water from the Yangtze River in the wetter south, to the Yellow, Huaihe, and Haihe Rivers in the parched north. The 600 kilometer-long Three Gorges reservoir will also eventually contribute water.

However, China specialist Christian LeMiere of the London-based analytical publishing group Jane's, says that this offers benefits only in the long term.

"There are a few infrastructure projects which they have in focus at the moment, one of which dates back to the era of Mao [Zedong], namely the diversion of water from the south to the north, and the east," says LeMiere, "but this will take years to build, to create. So, in the immediate term, [water] remains a problem for Chinese industry -- which is obviously consuming far more water resources [than before] -- as well as for ordinary people."

"There are very few things they can do in the next one to two years," he concludes.

Thinking Smaller

One obvious step that could be taken is to conserve existing supplies -- and there is wide scope for that. For instance, it takes less than six tons of water to produce a ton of steel in Germany or the United States, but between four and nine times that amount of water in China. Similarly, only a quarter of the water used for agricultural irrigation is effective, with the rest wasted.

Attitudes are changing, says analyst LeMiere. "There's been a growing awareness within Beijing in particular of the need for water conservation," which also holds true, he says, of other natural resources that will become scarce as the economy grows rapidly.

Beijing also has ambitious plans to "create" fresh water by seeding clouds to produce rain, and by increasing the desalination of sea water. But, as desert states in the Middle East have found, taking the salt out of seawater offers no panacea, says Bjorn Guterman of the Stockholm International Water Institute.

"It is very costly to desalinate water," he explains. "And then, if you are going to have a sustainable management of desalination, you have to use renewable energy -- and that is probably not an option".

In the increasing competition for water, it is usually farmers who lose out, as urban residential areas and industry demand ever more. Groundwater is being used at a faster rate than it can replenish itself, leading to a decline in the quality of water and even to subsidence.

This poses the possibility of rising social tensions in rural areas. Many farmers are already angry at their exclusion from the prosperity being created in the cities, at the loss of their land through the spread of industry, and at the severe pollution of many water supplies.

Despite China's looming water problems, analyst Guterman is optimistic. "Even in water-scarce societies -- there are countries which are even more water-scarce than China -- they manage it, but," he continues" "you cannot apply a wasteful Western lifestyle with limited water resources. [Recognizing] that is one of the keys to success."

One thing is sure: there will be no easy solution to providing China with adequate water.

Friday, February 17, 2006

China finds dangerous heavy metals in fish

Thu Feb 16, 12:09 PM ET

Dangerous levels of heavy metals have been found in a significant proportion of seafood in one of China's major fish-producing areas, prompting officials to warn of the potential harmful impact on human health, media reports said.

In a further sign of China's environmental woes, an investigation of four major freshwater lakes and offshore areas of eastern Jiangsu province showed cadmium, lead, mercury, chromium and zinc were present in 41 percent of all fish, China Daily reported.

The investigation by a local environment monitoring centre found seashells, shellfish and large fish were the most severely contaminated.

"Cadmium will cause kidney problems and mercury can cause mental disorders," said Xia Yu, director of the fishery department with Jiangsu Oceanic and Fishery Administration.

Disposed chemical products and poisonous industrial discharges were the main sources of the pollution, Xia said.

Local residents, who have traditionally relied on seafood for a large part of their diet, expressed concern.

"With such a proportion of heavy metal pollution, we really doubt now what it is suitable to eat," said Wang Linlin, a woman from Nanjing, Jiangsu's capital city.

China official warns environmental needs neglected

By Andrew Yeh in Beijing
Published: February 16 2006 11:15 | Last updated: February 16 2006 11:15

Local governments in China are investing heavily in trophy construction projects while neglecting a basic need for environmental infrastructure such as wastewater treatment systems, a senior Chinese official said on Thursday.

Qiu Baoxing, vice-minister for construction, reported that some 230 of the 600 or so Chinese cities surveyed by the government did not have adequate wastewater treatment networks.

“This means polluted water in these cities is discharged directly [into waterways] causing tremendous harm to the environment,” he said.

Mr Qiu’s remarks suggest local governments and developers around the country are overinvesting in showy real estate projects while ignoring rudimentary environmental requirements for densely populated cities.

China is in the midst of a historic building effort. The Ministry of Construction estimates that around 2bn sq m of new floor space is being built each year in the country, accounting for nearly half the world total.

But Mr Qiu warned there is a glaring divide between local construction booms representing present economic wealth and the need for a longer-term environmental planning.

In many cities, for instance, there is a shortage of underground sewage pipes even though there are wastewater treatment centres, said Wang Tiehong, a senior ministry engineer. Beijing is also devising a plan to raise capacity for the disposal of solid waste in its cities.

“The main problem is the urban planning mindset of local government officials,” said Mr Qiu. “First we must have preventive controls for water pollution. This way, if they do not follow guidelines, local governments can be punished.”

Demand for urban wastewater treatment is likely to create opportunities for foreign environmental companies. Suez, the French industrial group, said last week it plans to double its sales in greater China to nearly €1bn in two years time. “Our foot is on the accelerator,” Yves-Thibault de Silguy, a Suez executive, said in AFP.

China is notorious for water shortages and its toxic rivers. A string of industrial water pollution accidents, including the benzene spill by a state oil company into the northern Songhua River late last year, have renewed concerns in Beijing that environmental infrastructure and accountability are lacking.

“The worst is yet to come, judging by the increased frequency of serious pollution incidents,” Zhou Shengxian, the country’s top environment official, was quoted by Xinhua as saying this week.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Beijing to host 2nd int'l meeting on green buildings

Feb. 16 (Xinhuanet)-- The Second International Conferenceon Technologies of Intelligent and Green Buildings will be held between March 28 and 30, announced a senior official of the Ministry of Construction here Thursday.

a press conference held by the State Council Information Office, Vice Minister Qiu Baoxing said construction administrations and relative organizations from Britain, the United States, Canada, France, India and Singapore are co-hosting this meeting.

ministry is preparing for the event, which more than 2,000 people will attend, including ministers and representatives from several countries.

first meeting was held March 2005 in Beijing.

said the first meeting had greatly promoted the developmentof Green Architecture in China, and the second meeting is held upon its success.

conference is willing to set a communication platform for the better performance of new technologies and the products of intelligent and Green Buildings," he said.

Second International Expo on Technologies and Products of Intelligent and Green Buildings will also be held during the same time.

Concern over level of heavy metals in fish

By Wu Jiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-02-16 06:10

NANJING: More than 40 per cent of fish species in East China's Jiangsu Province were found to be contaminated with heavy metals, according to a survey released by Jiangsu Environment Monitoring Centre (JEMC) this week.

Last year's investigation covered the province's major four freshwater lakes and offshore areas, reported the Nanjing-based Contemporary Post.

Cadmium, lead, mercury, chromium and zinc were the five kinds of heavy metals found in 41 per cent of species in the sample survey.

It revealed seashells, shellfish, and large-sized fish are the three types of species that suffer from the most severe contamination.

But Xia Yu, director of the fishery department with Jiangsu Oceanic and Fishery Administration, questioned the liability of the statistics released by JEMC, which is not specialized in fishery products.

According to Xia, surveys carried out by his department in 300 water areas over the past five years showed only 3 per cent of fish species tested were polluted with heavy metals.

"JEMC's research methods and sample selection might be different from us, so we obtain different results," said Xia.

Experts have now urged consumers to be cautious about eating too many of the products.

"The poisoning metals will invade the human body and cause severe problems if people eat them too much. Cadmium will cause kidney problems, and mercury can cause mental disorders," said Xia.

Jiangsu is one of the major fishery production provinces in the country, which has 600,000 hectares of freshwater fishery areas and 240,000 hectares of offshore fishery.

According to Xia, over-density of the pools, uses of chemical products, and poisonous industrial discharges are the main resources for the heavy metal pollution in the province.

Aside from several large-scale fishery factories, most fish vendors are small business owners with no professional skills and proper equipment, Xia added.

Residents in Jiangsu have raised concern at the results of the latest survey.

"Fishery products always form a large proportion of our diets. With such a proportion of heavy metal pollution, we really doubt now what is suitable to eat," said Wang Linlin, from Nanjing.

"We sometimes rely on the famous brands or the quality labels issued by quality inspection institutions. But it's a pity there are only a few brands in the fishery industry, and most of them are nameless products with their sources unclear."

There is only one authoritative fishery product quality examination centre in Jiangsu, which is far from the market demand, according to Xia.

The province produced 3.88 million tons of fishery products in 2005, estimated to have brought in a 70 billion yuan (US$8.8 billion) sales revenue from both home and overseas markets, according to Jiangsu Marine and Fishery Bureau.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

BBC links to huge climate project

Hands at a laptop keyboard.  Image: BBC uses the power of thousands of ordinary PCs
The BBC is inviting viewers to join the world's biggest online climate prediction project. has already been running for two years and has generated forecasts on the likely extent of climate change.

Participants download software onto their personal computers which run the program when the machine is idle.

Its newest, most sophisticated computer model is being launched on Tuesday in conjunction with BBC Four in the UK.

"The main change in this model is that it uses a fully dynamic ocean," said the project's chief scientist David Stainforth from Oxford University.

"Previous versions used a very simplified ocean, whereas this one allows us to see how the atmosphere and the ocean interact," he told the BBC News website.

The upgraded design should provide a more accurate representation of the real world, where heat and gases are continuously exchanged between the atmosphere and the ocean, and should produce more realistic projections of future climate.

Spreading intelligence was established more than two years ago and uses the "distributed computing" approach.

Globe showing different temperature bands.  Image: BBC

Rather than running programs on one supercomputer, it uses the combined power of numerous PCs, each running a slightly different computer simulation.

No two simulations produce exactly the same results; overall, the project produces a picture of the possible range of outcomes given the present state of scientific knowledge.

Last year released results from its existing model suggesting that a doubling of the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide would increase the global average temperature by between 2C and 11C.

Distributed computing has been used before, notably by the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence or Seti, where several million people have downloaded software enabling them to analyse data from observations of distant stars for signs of alien life.

Personal contribution

The scientists behind believe their project is also a tool to spread awareness and understanding of climate change.

The link to BBC television may, they believe, help with this angle of their project as well as recruiting more users.

They hope to have initial results from the new model about three months after it is launched.

Frances McNamara, the BBC's producer for the experiment, said the project would give people a chance to be part of efforts to tackle a warming world.

"We wanted to use the BBC's web and interactive services to help the audience to make a personal contribution - not only to the climate change season of programming, but also to genuinely new science."

At the end of the BBC Four programme Meltdown, viewers will be asked to log in, download, and set their PCs to the task of predicting the climate of the future.

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Pollution control high on govt's agenda

Related: Environmental quality to influence promotion of officials

Feb. 15 -- The Chinese government has unveiled a plan to combat environmental degradation in the country over the next 15 years, with pollution control high on the agenda.

move is aimed at protecting the long-term interests of China and its people, and leaving a good living and development space for future generations," the State Council said.

plan stipulates that by 2010, the environmental quality of heavily polluted regions and cities should be improved and the trend of environmental degradation checked.

up to 2020, significant improvements to the country's general environmental quality and ecological status should have been made.

realize the goal, the Chinese government has outlined seven major tasks, with five focused on air, water and soil pollution control.

plan comes in the wake of the Songhua River pollution incident in November last year, an event that stunned the nation and sounded alarm bells about the country's worsening environment.

statistics indicate that most of the major rivers in the country are polluted and over one-third of China's land mass has been ravaged by acid rain. Most city residents breathe dirty air, and more than 300 million rural residents do not have access to clean water.

government acknowledged that despite its efforts to keep a check on pollution over the years, the situation is "still very severe".

problems cited include acid rain, polluted soil, organic pollutants, the potential risks posed by nuclear facilities, and a decline of biodiversity.

the next 15 years, the fight against pollution will become even more arduous, as the nation's economy is expected to quadruple during this time.

worst is yet to come, judging by the increased frequency of serious pollution incidents," according to Zhou Shengxian, director of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA).

issue of pollution has become a 'blasting fuse' of social instability," he told Xinhua, citing the many cases of mass unrest because of pollution.

this is also China's golden opportunity to tackle its environmental issues, he said.

central government has paid an unprecedented amount of attention to the issue, which is important political support for pollution control efforts," he said.

the plan also suggests the establishment of a long-term mechanism for environmental protection, including drafting laws on soil and chemical pollution as well as compensation for environmental damage.

also demands the strict enforcement of environment laws and severe punishment for those responsible for pollution, including governmental officials.

plan also requires governmental departments and localities to formulate preferential economic policies in relation to environmental protection, particularly in the areas of tax collection, credit, trade, land use and government purchases.

most urgent task for us is to check water pollution to ensure the safety of drinking water, and we must win the battle," Zhou said

Over 70% Beijing rivers in poor conditions

FIFTY-SIX of the 78 rivers monitored by the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau failed to meet the regulatory standard last year, China News Service reported today.

Additionally, 47 of the rivers were given a final evaluation of "severely poor quality level," the bureau said.

Beijing has more than 100 rivers and 84 reservoirs. The Miyun Reservoir and other drinking water sources are well protected, however most of the rivers in the lower regions had poor water quality.

The bureau said the rivers and lakes in the capital's downtown were generally in terrible condition. A third of the 19 lakes in the downtown were given the evaluation of having the terrible water qualities.

The city will issue water environment reports regularly as part of its increasing efforts to control water pollution this year, China News Service said.

The bureau will order the companies who cannot meet the waste discharge criteria to renovate their facilities. It will also strike down new projects coming from companies that do not have waste process management systems in use.

Beijing will build 700-kilometer of new waste pipelines before 2008, and will refurbish 200 kilometers of the old pipelines to reduce the direct waste inflow to the rivers.

Authorities will also improve the water quality through dredging, weeding and by sustaining the fish populations.

Plan unveiled to check worsening pollution

Feb. 14 (Xinhuanet) -- The Chinese government has unveiled a plan to combat environmental degradation in the country for the next 15 years, with pollution control high on the agenda.

move is aimed at protecting the long-term interests of the Chinese nation and leaving a good living and development space for the offspring," said the State Council in its decision on implementing the scientific concept of development and stepping up environmental protection.

target stipulates that by 2010, the environmental quality of the heavily-polluted regions and cities in the country should be improved and the trend of environmental degradation checked.

up to 2020, the environmental quality and ecological status in the country should be improved remarkably.

realize the goal, the Chinese government has outlined seven major tasks for environmental protection, with five focusing on pollution control including on water, air and soil.

decision was issued in the wake of the major Songhua River pollution in northeast China in November last year, an event that stunned the nation and sounded an alarm about the country's worsening environment.

statistics indicate that most of the major rivers in the country are polluted and over one-third of China's land territory has been ravaged by acid rain. Most city residents breath dirty air, and more than 300 million rural residents lack access to clean water.

Chinese government acknowledged in the document that despite its efforts in checking pollution in the past years, the environmental situation in the country is "still very severe".

cites as major problems the worsening of acid rain, the expansion of polluted soil, the emerging harm of persistent organic pollutants, the potential risks in its nuclear facilities and the decline of biodiverity.

the next 15 years, the fight against pollution will become even more arduous, as the nation's economy is expected to quadruple during the period, it says.

worst environmental pollution in the country is coming, highlighted by frequent occurrence of major pollution incidents," said Zhou Shengxian, director of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA).

issue of pollution has become an 'blasting fuse' of social instability," he told Xinhua, citing the surging of mass unrest in the country resulting from pollution.

China is also facing a golden opportunity to tackle its environmental issues, he said.

central government has paid unprecedented high attention to the issue, which provides strong political support to pollution control efforts," he said.

the document urged the establishment of a long-term mechanism on environmental protection, including drafting laws on soil and chemical pollution as well as on compensation for environmental damage.

also demands strict enforcement of environment-related laws and severely punishing those responsible for pollution, including governmental officials.

document asks governmental departments and localities to formulate economic policies beneficial to environmental protection in the sector of price, tax collection, credit, trade, land and government purchase.

most urgent task for us is to check water pollution to ensure the safety of drinking water, and we must win the battle," Zhou said

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

NGOs Discuss Environment Plans at International Forum

By Sun Xiaohua via REDORBIT NEWS

China's non-governmental voice has grown stronger in the recent global discussions on environmental issues held in Dubai at the beginning of this month.

The high-profile delegation, sent by the All-China Environmental Federation (ACEF), one of the most influential environmental non- governmental organizations (NGO) in China, was led by Song Jian, ACEF chairman.

At the forum, Song has clearly set forth China's standpoints on three main topics energy and the environment, chemicals management and tourism and the environment.

The two-day environmental forum was attended by NGOs from more than 160 different countries and regions.

Song supports the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management, and called for an additional organization to pool funds to make sure developing countries have safe chemicals.

"China will make an effort to fulfil its commitment of dealing with toxic chemicals safely, such as some persistent organic pollutants," Song said.

"But according to the country's conditions, some chemicals, such as pesticides, should be eliminated step by step," he said.

"The country has a large population to feed. If we stop the use of pesticide immediately, food security could not be guaranteed," he added.

ACEF said it disagrees with the strong objections to the establishment of dams and the development of nuclear power made by many European NGOs.

"China should actively develop nuclear power as well as keep it safe," Song said. "And the country will spread the technology of coal liquefaction to take over from fossil fuels as a kind of clean energy."

"Hydro power is an important and clear kind of energy for China," Song said. "Through protecting local ecology, China will not give up the construction of hydro power plants."

The seventh United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Global Civil Society Forum was held to collect suggestions from international environmental NGOs for the ninth Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum, held last week.

After meeting the Chinese delegation, Klaus Toepfer, UNEP Executive Director, expressed his hope of increasing co-operation with China's environmental NGOs. Currently, UNEP carries on most of its co-operations with the official governmental departments.

ACEF also wants to speed up its learning and sharing with foreign organizations, Song said.

"China's environmental NGOs are still not strong enough to cope with the country's environmental problems," said Li Hengyuan, secretary-general of ACEF.

"We have a long way to go to strengthen our capabilities."

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Guangdong's rural areas suffer serious water pollution

BEIJING, Feb. 13 -- It was impossible for He Yongbao to enjoy this year's Spring Festival because his elder brother, in the prime of life, died of cancer a fortnight ago.

brother is one of several hundred people who have died in the village in Wengyuan, a rural county in South China's Guangdong Province, in recent years.

believe the deaths are related to pollution in the village.

officials admit that more than 40 per cent of the province's rural people do not have access to safe drinking water.

also received 80,000 complaints about pollution last year.

mining, which began about 20 years ago, has seriously polluted the water and soil in my hometown. Well water is hardly drinkable, and rice and vegetables are badly contaminated with heavy metals," He said.

260 residents in my area have died of cancer in the past 18 years and others have contracted the illness."

Yongbao's complaint was recently reiterated by Liang Lianluan, an environmental science professor at the Guangzhou-based South China University of Technology.

especially water pollution, has become increasingly serious in rural areas in the province; it can no longer be neglected," the professor told China Daily.

authorities have been keeping a close eye on pollution in urban areas, but there has been very little attention given to rural areas, Liang said.

pollution in rural areas might not be as bad as in urban areas, but it surely is more extensive," he said.

to the professor, the abuse of agricultural chemicals, including fertilizers, pesticides and weed killers; the lack of sewage disposal facilities; the cultivation of poultry; and untreated waste from small township enterprises are all responsible for water pollution in rural areas in the province.

say that about 2.5 million tons of pollutants are poured into the Pearl River, the most important river in the province, every year.

are hardly any drainage systems or rubbish treatment plants in rural areas in the province, with waste and sewage simply discarded, making pollution inevitable.

professor said that provincial authorities should quickly establish an integrated environmental supervision mechanism.

should also introduce technology to deal with pollution problems in rural areas.

to Chen Guangrong, deputy director of Guangdong Provincial Environmental Protection Administration, the authorities have realized the urgency of this issue.

are being developed to protect drinking water. This will soon be submitted to deputies of the provincial people's congress for examination and approval, he said.

official said that environmental protection authorities received about 80,000 complaints related to pollution in the province last year, most of which were related to water pollution.

said that his administration will keep a closer eye on enterprises liable to pollute water in the province's rural areas.

a recent work conference, Zhou Rifang, head of the provincial water resources department, said that 22.08 million rural people do not yet have access to safe drinking water, making up 40 per cent of the province's total rural population.

them, 14.36 million have access only to substandard drinking water, with the remaining 7.72 million suffering from inconvenient access to drinkable water.

province will set aside 7.2 billion yuan (US$900 million) to solve these problems in the 11th Five-Year Plan period (2006-10), Zhou said

Resolve key to battling scourge of pollution

China Daily 2006-02-13 05:28

The State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) the country's top environmental watchdog named and shamed 11 riverside companies as heavy polluters last week.

SEPA demonstrated its determination to curb rampant pollution, ordering the firms to clean up their acts or face fines and possible closure.

It has been reported that another 10 illegal petrochemical, transportation and power projects located near rivers will be punished for posing a threat to the environment.

The administration has pledged to investigate 127 chemical and petrochemical projects for threatening water, densely populated areas and ecological protection zones.

Pan Yue, vice-minister of SEPA, has repeatedly sent a clear message in interviews with a host of newspapers. The ongoing anti-pollution campaign will be "long-term and merciless, rather than transitory like a storm."

Such high profile and encouraging moves are rare, if not unprecedented, given the fact SEPA has always been considered a relatively powerless department.

In fact, even Pan himself admitted a number of hurdles including local officials' preoccupation with economic development and local protectionism stand in the way of SEPA's work.

Although SEPA has long been pushing for an environmental assessment system prior to approving a large project, environmental protection agencies have "little say and power" in making the system work in practice.

Because environmental reviews are not legally binding, environmental protection agencies usually can do nothing if related administrators refuse to accept recommendations in their assessment reports when deciding whether to let a project go forward or not.

Such a dilemma suggests we can expect an uphill, arduous fight against pollution. The anti-pollution bid has never been more in need of support than it is now.

Following two decades of fast economic growth that has brought wealth to the people, pollution has also spewed out, choking air and water.

One recent and alarming environmental disaster was the spillage of benzene into the Songhua River in Northeast China that resulted from a chemical plant explosion on November 13.

More than 70 per cent of the country's rivers and lakes are polluted and ground water in 90 per cent of Chinese cities is tainted, according to government reports.

Due to widespread pollution caused by industrial by-products and untreated human waste, about 400 of China's 600 largest cities suffer from water shortages and about 300 million rural residents, or a third of the total countryside population, drink unsafe water.

As Pan has warned, China's development has entered a phase of high-level environmental risk pollution has gone beyond individual factories or regions to become pervasive and structural.

The severe situation is obviously a serious challenge for top decision-makers, who must save the country from worsening pollution to guarantee sustainable development.

As the state of the environment affects the health and safety of each citizen, the pollution problem is an important part of the government's people-centred scientific concept of development, which promotes harmony between man's development and nature.

Undoubtedly, much needs to be done to effectively deal with pollution. But showing the political will to win the fight should, and will, be a necessary and good start.

All local officials should be alerted to the fact that there is little time to lose if pollution is to be cut. As Pan said "it is high time to do it."

Monday, February 13, 2006

Polluting monster disappears from Shanghai's skyline

SHANGHAI, Feb. 12 (Xinhuanet) -- The Wusong Industrial Zone, which had long been a source of pollution in Shanghai, has been cited as a showcase for recovery and improvement of the ecology and environment.

city in East China accomplished the turn around by revamping and optimizing its industrial structure and production technologies. "Our concept was to improve the environment while revamping structure," said Meng Zhongwei, deputy director of the office in charge of cleaning up the Wusong Industrial Zone.

cited the Baosteel Group, a Chinese iron and steel giant, located inside the industrial zone as an example. Baosteel spent 18.3 billion yuan (about 2.26 billion U.S. dollars) upgrading its equipment and technologies and has built new workshops for producing stainless steel and special steel products.

a result, Baosteel has in turn produced less pollution whileseeing improvements in its economic output even though there was aslight drop in overall steel output.

Jian, deputy director of the Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Environmental Protection, said Wusong Industrial Zone's success was due to upgrades to its industrial structure that emphasized both environmental protection and increased economic output.

in the northern part of Shanghai and covering an area of 21 square km, the Wusong Industrial Zone used to house 180 industrial ventures that pumped out 28,800 tons air pollution -- 30 percent of the city's total -- every year.

inadequate sewer system meant untreated waste water was discharged into local waterways inside the industrial zone causinga stink that could be smelled 200 days a year. The zone's green space was a meagre 2.8 percent.

was six years ago before the city embarked on an ambitious plan to clean up the zone. Sixteen major enterprises and 40 production lines were relocated. Over 1,100 households were moved elsewhere and 150 coal-fired boilers were upgraded.

clean up efforts cost 2.85 billion yuan (about 351 million U.S. dollars) and included adding 430 hectares of green space 21 percent of which is planted with trees. A waste water system has also been installed along with facilities for monitoring air quality

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Environmental pollution blamed for human infection of bird flu

BEIJING, Feb. 10 (Xinhuanet) -- Chinese health official said Friday that some cases of human infection of bird flu were caused by environmental pollution.

human cases found in the areas where no outbreak of bird flu in animals had been reported were caused by environmental pollution by sick or dead birds, said Mao Qun'an, spokesman for the Ministry of Health, at a press conference.

one third of the reported human case of bird flu in the world were found in areas with no outbreak in animals, said Mao, adding the exact channels of the human infection are under investigation.

the reason of higher mortality rate of bird flu cases in China, Mao said some grassroots health departments are weak in early finding and timely treatment of patients. "And the disease often come on fast and results in crock-up of multiple organs, which also result in high mortality," Mao told the press conference.

to the official, the ministry has strengthened support to grassroots medical staff in terms of financial assistance and training, and also warned the public to stay away from sick or dead poultry.

with suspected symptoms should go to hospital as soon as possible," he said.

has reported 11 human cases of bird flu since last October, among whom seven have died. The mortality rate is 63.6 percent.

total of 166 cases involving 88 deaths have been reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by Feb. 9 with the mortality rate of 53 percent, according to the WHO website.

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