Polluted China Rivers Threaten "Sixth" Of Population|
Mon Aug 27, 2007 11:26AM EDT
BEIJING (Reuters) - Polluters along two of China's main rivers have defied a
decade-old clean-up effort, leaving much of the water unfit to touch, let alone
drink, and a risk to a sixth of the population, state media said on Monday.
Half the check points along the Huai River and its tributaries in central and
eastern China showed pollution of "Grade 5" or worse -- the top of the dial in
key toxins, meaning that the water was unfit for human contact and may not be
fit even for irrigation, national legislators were told.
Years of crackdowns and waste treatment investment have reined in some of the
worst damage to the Huai and Liao Rivers, but industrial pollution remained far
too high, Mao Rubai, chairman of the National People's Congress environment and
resources protection committee, said in a report delivered on Sunday.
The rivers posed a "threat to the water safety of one sixth of the country's
1.3 billion population," the China Daily said.
The pollution on the Huai threatened the massive South-North Water Transfer
Project to draw water from the Yangtze River through the Huai basin to the
country's parched north, Mao said.
"Large volumes of untreated domestic effluent and industrial waste-water are
dumped directly into the river," Mao said of one of the Huai's worst polluted
tributaries, according to the NPC Web site (www.npc.gov.cn).
"To judge from the inspection, the quality of water used for the South-North
Water Transfer Project is threatened by pollution, and this must attract our
In Zhoukou city in central Henan province, 15 of 23 factories inspected were
found to be illegally dumping waste, Mao said.
Ma Kai, the chief of the National Development and Reform Commission, which
steers industrial policy, said meeting energy and pollution reduction targets
would be made a major factor in considering promotions for provincial-level
officials, the China News Service reported.
China has promised to cut emissions of major pollutants by 10 percent between
2006 and 2010, but last year failed to meet the annual goal.
Mao's call for stricter standards and enforcement came as government leaders
promised to lift ceilings on fines for polluters. But Mao went a step further,
warning that even factories that met pollution limits were still dumping too
"This situation is directly related to the fact that water pollution
standards for some of our country's industries are too low," he said.
Even if standards were met, the volume of toxins entering the Huai "far
exceeds the capacity of the river basin to replenish itself and will inevitably
create pollution," he said.
Pollutants have also tainted underwater supplies down to a depth of 300
meters in places along the Huai.
The eastern route of the transfer project is scheduled to begin pumping water
in 2008, but plans to reduce pollution in Jiangsu province have not been
"The quality of the transferred water will be very difficult to ensure," said
The Liao River in China's northeast also remains beset by polluters, with
large volumes of untreated waste flowing through it into the sea.
Mao said that officials along both rivers had only used some of the funds set
aside for pollution treatment projects.
Original article: Reuters - Environment News
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