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Polluters targeted in Huaihe clean-up drive
By Qin Chuan (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-04-30 06:39

Irresponsible companies are to be targeted in a new drive to clean up the heavily polluted Huaihe River.

Scores of factories known to have discharged harmful effluence are to be closely watched by environmental authorities in an effort to prevent a catastrophe.

The Huaihe supplies water to some 150 million people in Henan, Anhui, Shandong and Jiangsu provinces in Central and East China.

Yet the river is one of the most polluted rivers in the country.

The river is also suffering a severe dry period and many fear the summer rains will wash stagnant water held in reservoirs downstream, affecting more areas and people.

Now officials fear a major pollution accident at the same time as the annual rainstorms could spell disaster for millions.

More than half of the monitoring points which measure pollution along the river show the water is already classed level five-plus - the worst status given by the system.

The State Environmental Protection Administration, SEPA, hopes that the listed companies will cut pollution by 30 per cent, or stop operation.

"It will be local governments that have a final say on which of the companies are required to reduce discharge and by how much or stop operation," said Lu Xinyuan, head of the SEPA's environment supervision bureau.

"Authorities will also try to keep existing sewage treatment plants along the river under sound operation and reservoirs under rational management," vice-minister of the administration Pan Yue said on Friday in Beijing at a news conference.

Avoiding a major pollution accident is now the top priority.

Should a spill occur in July, such an accident did happen late last July, rainstorms in the upper reaches of the river washed pollution downstream. One of the worst affected regions was the Xuyi County in the downstream Jiangsu Province. Ninety per cent of fish and other species produced in fish farms were killed, leading to a total loss of 310 million yuan (US$37 million).

Pan said although the 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-05) period is ending, within which is a determination to stamp out pollution, only 35 per cent of the pollution control projects designed for Huaihe during the period have been completed, and only 41 per cent of the total investment needed has been put in place.

(China Daily 04/30/2005 page2)

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