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`Electronic eyes' to watch polluters
( 2003-11-20 00:34) (China Daily)

A system to monitor pollution sources will be introduced in South China's Guangdong Province, said a source from the Guangdong Provincial Environmental Protection Administration.

By 2005, more than 300 enterprises, all among the leading polluters in Guangdong, are expected to be equipped with the monitoring system, said the administration's Zhong Qizhen.

"The sulphur dioxide discharged by about 300 enterprises accounts for 80 per cent of all the sulphur dioxide in the province,'' said Zhong.

Guangdong has successfully utilized the system to monitor urban air and water in recent years. Now, the province is focusing on monitoring sources of pollution.

Employees, who call the system "electronic eyes," can connect to it via phone lines, the wireless network and the Internet.

The "electronic eyes'' pick up changes in the quantity and quality of the discharges.

The system has already been tried in Guangzhou -- the provincial capital --, Shenzhen and Dongguan. Some 15 enterprises were monitored in Shenzhen and about 30 in Dongguan.

The system can save up to three-fourths of the labour costs associated with pollution monitoring.

It is estimated that 10 working staff members are enough, if the system is being used, to do the work of 40 employees .

But authorities are likely to combine the monitoring system with on-site checks, which are helpful to bring serious pollution cases to the forefront, said Zhong.

While officials say enterprises equipped with the system have a heightened awareness of the importance of the restraining pollution discharges, the results of the monitoring cannot be used to prosecute heavy polluters.

The current monitoring system in China is in its early stages and the data cannot be used as the basis of legal action .

"The data is not sufficient to judge whether the enterprise should be punished by over-discharges,'' said Tian Weiyong, of the Pollution Control Department of the State Administration of Environmental Protection.

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