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SEPA calls for quick reporting of pollution
By Sun Xiaohua (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-02-07 06:02

Pollution accidents must be reported within an hour after they are detected, the nation's top environmental watchdog said yesterday.

Accidents should be reported to the local government or environmental protection bureaus, the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) said.

And serious accidents have to be notified directly to the State Council or SEPA.

The authorities should investigate accidents on the spot immediately after receiving the report; and those who fail to report in time will be punished for dereliction of duty, SEPA said.

"With such a reporting system, SEPA will keep the public updated with the latest and accurate information," a SEPA spokesman said.

The announcement follows a series of pollution cases during the last three months, the biggest of which was benzene pollution in Northeast China's Songhua River, caused by a chemical factory explosion in November. Since then, SEPA has received reports of more than 40 environmental accidents.

Most of them were related to water pollution, including cadmium pollution in Beijiang River in South China's Guangdong Province.

"China will witness a high frequency of environmental accidents because of an imbalance in industrial structure," the spokesman said.

According to a recent national survey, more than half of the 21,000 chemical enterprises are located along the country's two major river basins, the Yellow and the Yangtze. Many of the plants had not undergone environmental-impact assessments and were built in residential areas or upstream from rivers.

After the Songhua River pollution, the environmental authorities of Jilin Province were criticized by SEPA for poor work in reporting the case.

(China Daily 02/07/2006 page1)

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