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Čína: Emergency measures launched to check pollution in Huaihe River

Čína: Emergency measures launched to check pollution in Huaihe River
Emergency measures launched to check pollution in Huaihe River BEIJING, April 29 (Xinhuanet) -- China launched emergency measures Friday to check worsening pollution in the Huaihe River to ensure safe drinking water for 150 million people in the river basin. This is the first time the Chinese government has called on emergency measures to deal with environmental issues. The emergency period will last till July when the flood season comes. "Water quality in the Huaihe is worsening due to serious pollution and a sharp drop in water flow. The water in some parts is no longer safe for drinking," said Pan Yue, vice director of the State Environment Protection Administration (SEPA), at a press conference here. According to SEPA, the water flow in the Huaihe River plummeted more than 30 percent in the first quarter of the year when it was the dry season, and pollutants are accumulating in the river. Water quality in 86 monitoring points in 56 tributaries of the Huaihe are rated V on China's water quality scale, which goes from I to V, with V the being the worst. Pan said the emergency measures include ordering heavily polluting enterprises to stop and cut production or reduce their discharge of pollutants by more than 30 percent. The move will at least involve 168 industrial enterprises in the middle and lower reaches of the Huaihe, he said. Meanwhile, SEPA asked localities along the river to ensure sewage treatment plants to operate normally. Many sewage treatment plants along the river seldom operate due to high cost and shortage of funds. Pan attributed the pollution in the Huaihe mainly to local protectionism, the mushrooming of polluting enterprises and the lack of teeth of the country's environmental laws. Many local governments paid more attention to "economic growth figures" than to sustainable development, and they gave tacit support to polluting enterprises, he said. He said the local environmental protection departments do not have the power to shut down heavily polluting enterprises. "They can only fine the enterprises 100,000 yuan with the maximum of one million yuan according to environmental laws, far below the cost of installing and operating pollution treatment facilities," he said. Pan pledged that despite the difficulties, SEPA will continue its fight against pollution, saying that SEPA will carry out a special operation this year along the Huaihe to crack down on heavily polluting enterprises. The Huaihe, the third longest river in China, runs through Henan, Shandong, Anhui and Jiangsu provinces in central and east China. It is one of the dirtiest rivers in China. (Xinhuanet 2005-04-30) ZDROJ: State environment protection agency of China (SEPA)
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