China to curb chemical plants due to environmental concerns

Updated: 2011-09-16 13:27


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BEIJING-- China will limit the construction of chemical plants and launch a nationwide inspection on chemical producers, said a senior environment official on Thursday.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection, in charge of assessing the environmental impacts of industrial projects, will not accept applications for any new projects related to the production and storage of dangerous chemicals outside industrial parks from Thursday, said Zhang Lijun, vice minister of environmental protection, at a meeting held in Beijing.

Under Chinese laws, without an environmental impact assessment report, a factory can not be built.

Zhang did not say when the ministry will accept applications again but admitted that the country faced worsening chemical pollution.

The number of chemical plants has increased too quickly, and their pollution control measures have lagged behind and they have not always carried out supervision, he said.

The country would raise the environmental standards of chemical plants and tighten penalties and fines on chemical factory owners who break the law, he said.

The ministry give stricter punishments to those who build the plants without environmental approval and the factories which are put into operation without an examination of their pollution control measures.

In wake of several serious chemical pollution incidents, the ministry will start a nationwide inspection of all certificated producers of dangerous chemicals, to check their pollution control measures. The inspections will be concluded by the end of this year, Zhang said.

The authorities will focus on chemical plants located along the rivers, lakes and the coast, he said.

A serious pollution incident occurred in Qujing city of southwest China's Yunnan province late August. A local chemical factory was found to have illegally dumped over 5,000 metric tons of chromium-contaminated waste near a reservoir and on hills from April to June.

Chemical plants, which were found to have problems with pollution control, would be ordered to improve and would be shut down if they failed, Zhang said.

Harsher penalties will be imposed on those illegally dumping polluted chemicals, he said.