U.S. Water News Online
SHANGHAI, China -- China's major waterways already face
severe pollution from factories built along their banks and several
dozen new construction projects will be halted to protect the water
from further threat, a top environment official said.
A review of 127 major chemical and petrochemical projects found
many were located too close to major bodies of water, Pan Yue, deputy
director of the State Environmental Protection Agency, said in
remarks seen on his agency's Web site.
"These environmental risks cannot be solved within a short time,
as the cost of relocation of the projects is too high," Pan was
quoted as saying.
Pan said the environmental agency has suspended approvals of
another 44 projects with a total planned investment of 149.5 billion
yuan ($18.7 billion) because of their locations.
He faulted officials for pursuing projects unsuitable for local
conditions, for operating unsafe port facilities and for a lack of
awareness of environmental issues. Impact assessments need to be
deeper and more thorough, Pan said.
The inspections of existing chemical facilities, prompted by an
explosion last November at a chemical plant that released tons of
toxic chemicals in the Songhua River in northeastern China, found 20
with serious environmental safety problems, Pan said.
The projects included oil refining, ethylene and methanol
factories involving 60.6 billion yuan ($7.6 billion) in investments.
Eleven were located along the Yangtze River, one on the Yellow River
and two at Daya Bay, near Hong Kong.
The government has ordered those plants to take immediate action
to fix the problems, and allocated 1.62 billion yuan ($202 million)
to fund improvements, the report said.
China needs to further strengthen pre-construction environmental
assessment procedures to prevent future problems, Pan said.
The environmental agency has repeatedly seen its attempts to close
down or stop construction of projects accused of violating
environmental safeguards overridden or ignored.
Some areas have reported progress in cleaning up heavily polluted
waters, but most of China's canals, rivers and lakes are severely
tainted by industrial, agricultural and household pollution. Only a
bit more than a third of the 3.7 billion tons of waste water
discharged by China's huge cities each year is treated.
The government earlier reported that China has suffered 76 more
water pollution accidents since the November spill into the Songhua
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