Ecology toppriority for sea bridge
2009-February-18 Source: China Daily Website
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Environmental protection will be given "utmost importance" while constructing the long-awaited Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, Guangdong's provincial environment watchdog said on Feb. 16.

"We will try to keep the negative environmental effects as low as possible during the construction of the bridge as well as once it's operational," Li Qing, director of the provincial environmental protection department, said during the local people's congress.

A draft assessment report on environmental protection of the bridge has been submitted to the central government for approval, Li said.

Construction of the $4.8 billion-bridge, seen as an important transport link between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao, will begin no later than next year, the bridge's coordinative office said.

"We believe the central government will give utmost importance to environmental protection during its construction," Li said.

According to the construction plan, approved by the Guangdong provincial government in 1999, the bridge will run across the Chinese White Dolphin National Nature Reserve in the Pearl River Estuary area.

Sources with the reserve administrative bureau said that there are about 1,000 such dolphins near the 460-sq km estuary area.

The environmental protection assessment report of the bridge, which stretches for 29 km, said that the construction and operation of the bridge "will have some effects on the sea and land environment nearby".

Possible effects include dangers to animals and plants due to exploitation of land, and noise pollution, which will affect nearby residents, both when the bridge is under construction as well as when it is operational.

"Plus, construction of the bridge may harm the living conditions for the rare Chinese white dolphins," Li said.

Living conditions for the dolphins near the Pearl River estuary have already been disturbed due to frequent construction of commercial buildings in the past decade, Li said.

"As far as I know, workers will be required to watch out for dolphins appearing while the construction is on to ensure there are none within 500 m of the site," he said.

The assessment report further said that solid waste and sewage should not be directly discharged into the sea during construction.

"More efforts should be made to protect the endangered dolphins as the bridge involves the three parties and the reserve area is spanned across the sea areas of the three regions," Li said.

Editor: Yan
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