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Environmental Protection
Updated: 2006-06-05 10:27

II. Prevention and Control of Industrial Pollution

Prevention and control of industrial pollution is the focal point of China's environmental protection endeavors. China's strategy in this regard is undergoing a major change compared with the past. It is changing from control of the end pollution to control of the origin and the whole process of pollution, from control of the concentration of the pollutants to control of both concentration and total amount of pollutants, from control of point sources to comprehensive control of river valleys or entire regions, and from simply addressing the pollution problem of an enterprise to adjusting the industrial structure, promoting clean production and developing a cyclical economy. The amount of industrial waste water, oxygen for industrial chemicals, industrial sulfur dioxide, industrial smoke and industrial dust discharged in generating one unit of GDP in China in 2004 dropped by 58 percent, 72 percent, 42 percent, 55 percent and 39 percent, respectively, from 1995. Energy consumption per 10,000 yuan-worth of GDP in 2004 declined by 45 percent from 1990, saving 700 million tons of standard coal in total. The coal consumption for generating thermal power, the comparable energy consumption for each ton of steel and the comprehensive energy consumption for cement declined by 11.2 percent, 29.6 percent and 21.9 percent, respectively.

-- Eliminating and closing down enterprises that have backward technologies, have caused serious pollution or have wasted resources. During the Ninth Five-Year Plan period (1996-2000), the State closed down 84,000 small enterprises that had caused both serious waste and pollution. In the period 2001-2004, the State, on three occasions in a run, issued directories listing the backward production capabilities, technologies and products that should be eliminated, and more than 30,000 enterprises that had wasted resources and caused serious pollution were winnowed out. Eight industries that consumed large amounts of resources and caused serious environmental pollution, i.e., those producing iron and steel, cement, electrolytic aluminum, iron alloy, calcium carbide, coking, saponin and chromic salt, were rectified, and the construction of over 1,900 projects was either stopped or postponed. In 2005, over 2,600 enterprises in the iron and steel, cement, iron alloy, coking, paper-making and textile printing and dyeing industries were closed down for having caused serious environmental pollution and violated industrial policies. Problems of big industrial polluters such as cement, power, iron and steel, paper-making and chemicals were tackled in a comprehensive way, and technological transformation was carried out. As a result, the discharged amount of principal pollutants has kept declining, while the output of these sectors has increased year by year.

-- Developing a cyclical economy. The first step is to engage in clean production by making full use of resources at the beginning and throughout the whole production process in an enterprise, so as to minimize, reuse or render harmless the waste matter; to gradually establish a producer's responsibility system and extend it to cover the designing phase to promote ecologically-friendly product design. So far, over 5,000 enterprises in the sectors of chemicals, light industry, power-generating, coal, machinery, and building materials have passed the examination for clean production. More than 12,000 enterprises across China have received the ISO14000 Environmental Management System certification. More than 800 enterprises and over 18,000 products of diverse types and specifications have received environmental labeling certification. Their annual output value is worth 60 billion yuan. The second step is that ecological industry is being vigorously developed in industry-concentrated areas so that wastes from upstream enterprises become raw materials for enterprises downstream. This has effectively extended the production chain, minimized the amount of waste and realized zero emission. Besides, ecological industrial zones have been established and resources are being used in the most efficient way within these zones or among enterprises. At present, 17 ecological industrial parks of different kinds have been set up nationwide. The third step is to make overall plans for the development of industry and agriculture, production and consumption, city and countryside. This involves vigorously developing industries that make cyclical use of resources, so as to realize sustainable production and consumption. The State has conducted the first pilot cyclical economy program in 82 enterprises in some of the key industries, fields or industrial parks, and in concerned provinces and municipalities. A pilot scheme is being carried out in 24 cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, to establish a recycling system of renewable resources. Hainan, Jilin, Heilongjiang and six other provinces are actively engaged in building themselves into ecological provinces, and some 150 cities and counties into ecological cities and counties.

-- Taking precautions against environmental emergencies. In 2005, the Chinese government enacted the State Plan for Handling Environmental Emergencies, which set forth clear requirements on how to receive, report, handle, compute and analyze information concerning environmental emergencies, as well as how to monitor and release early-warning information. The State has formulated and improved nine plans for water environment emergencies. Among them are plans for handling water environment emergencies in sensitive water areas in key river valleys, plans for handling atmospheric environment emergencies, plans for handling dangerous chemicals (discarded chemicals) emergencies, and plans for handling nuclear and radioactive matter emergencies. In addition, it has worked out the Plan for Handling Water Environment Emergencies in Sensitive Sections of the Yellow River Valley, Plan for Handling Terrorist Attacks Involving Chemical Weapons, Plan for Handling Terrorist Attacks Involving Nuclear and Radioactive Materials, Plan for Handling Agriculture-related Environmental Pollution Emergencies, and Plan for Handling Emergencies Involving Major Harmful Agricultural Organisms or Intrusion of Foreign Organisms. In recent years, China has evaluated the potential risks of 127 key chemical and petrochemical projects located near such environmentally-sensitive areas as the shores of rivers, lakes, oceans, densely-populated regions and nature reserves, conducting comprehensive and careful examinations on nearly 50,000 leading enterprises.

-- Instituting a beginning-to-end management system over dangerous industrial waste. In 2003, the State put into practice the Plan for the Construction of Facilities for the Treatment of Dangerous Wastes and Medical Wastes. Systems such as those requiring the use of duplicate receipts and operation licenses in transferring dangerous industrial wastes have been reinforced. The amount of treated dangerous industrial wastes in 2005 was 3.39 million tons, as compared with 1.31 million tons in 1998. Thirty-one provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government have established management centers for solid wastes.

-- Exercising strict safety management on nuclear and radioactive environments. China has five nuclear power plants (nine nuclear power generating units) and 18 nuclear reactors in operation. Two nuclear power plants (four nuclear power generating units) and one nuclear reactor are under construction. No major nuclear security problems have ever occurred in China. It has achieved the goal of "protecting the staff, the public and the environment from being exposed to larger amounts of radiation and pollution than permitted by the State." China strictly follows the Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency. It has adopted the licensing system, requiring that the import and export of all radioactive sources go through the formalities of examination and approval according to law.