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One-third of China bathed in acid rain
Latest Updated by 2006-08-28 09:02:34
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One-third of China's vast landmass is suffering from acid rain caused by rapid industrial growth and the failure of local governments to enforce environmental standards for fear of hurting business, a new report shows.

China's factories last year spewed out 25.5 million tons of sulfur dioxide - the chemical that causes acid rain - a 27 percent increase from 2000, said Sheng Huaren, deputy chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.

Sheng released a report on Saturday that found pollution from factories and power plants was rising 9 percent a year.

The report said sulfur dioxide emissions were double safe levels and that China releases more of the substance than any other country.

More than half of the 696 Chinese cities and counties monitored experienced acid rain, the report said.

"Increased sulfur dioxide emissions mean that one-third of China's territory is affected by acid rain, posing a major threat to soil and food safety," said Sheng, in briefing lawmakers on the report.

Coal-burning power stations and coking plants are the main culprits.

Nearly 650 of the 680 coking plants in Shanxi, the country's major coal mining province, discharged excessive sulfur dioxide, the report found.

"In 40 percent of Chinese cities the air is polluted, mainly by sulfur dioxide and particulates suspended in the air," Sheng said.

Smoke and industrial dust emissions also increased in 2005, despite the government's vow to reduce the emissions by 9 percent annually, the report said.

Sheng said the deteriorating environment was the price local governments paid for a headlong pursuit of economic growth.

"It is especially worrying that most local governments base economic growth on energy-consuming industries, disregarding the environment's capacity to sustain industrial expansion," Sheng said.

Environmental authorities have recommended that the central government take decisive action to curb industries that consume large amounts of energy and produce major pollution by restricting land approvals and loans while simultaneously raising emissions-control standards, Sheng said.

"Small coking plants and coal-burning power stations should be shut down or restructured," he said.

In addition to the substantial air pollution China faces, the official figures on solid waste discharges underestimate the severity of the situation, the report said. Inspectors have found that companies and local governments are cheating on their reports to the state.

The study submitted to lawmakers determined there could be as much as 5 million tons of toxic chromium waste discarded nationwide instead of the 4.1 million tons that official figures indicate.

"Many firms report a lower figure for chromium waste for fear of being punished," said Sheng.

Editor: Yan

By: Source: China View website
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