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Key Pollutant Discharges Keep Rising: Report

Inadequate pollution control facilities, rapid urbanization and rising energy consumption have been blamed for an alarming rise in China's key pollution indices in the first half year despite the government's environmental targets and control efforts.


The chemical oxygen demand (COD) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) indices both increased during the first six months compared with last year, said an official report released on Tuesday.


From January to June, the COD, used to estimate the amount of organic matter in waste water, rose 3.7 percent over the same period of 2005, totaling 6.9 million tons.


Discharges of SO2 reached 12.75 million tons, up 4.2 percent, said the report.


The increase was caused by rising consumption of energy, speeding urbanization and increasing discharge of waste water, according to the report.


The low use rate of desulfurizing facilities in new thermal power generators, inadequate or lack of pollution control facilities in industrial projects, and the delayed operation of sewage treatment plants in some cities were also blamed for the results.


Only half of the new thermal power plants put into use in the first half, totaling 32 million kilowatts, were equipped with desulfurizing facilities.


About 40 percent of the total COD discharge was from the industries such as paper-making, chemicals and textiles, which were still growing rapidly, the report said.


"The task of reducing discharges of key pollutants is very arduous," said the report, noting that local governments and central departments must raise the awareness of the responsibility and urgency of environmental protection.


The report was released by the State Environmental Protection Administration, the National Bureau of Statistics and the State Development and Reform Commission.


China has set a goal in its 11th Five-year Plan, which aims for energy consumption per unit of domestic gross product (GDP) to drop by 20 percent while the discharges of SO2 and COD drop by 10 percent by 2010.


However, major indices show the environment is still deteriorating due to negligence of local officials who target only fast economic growth, drawing criticism from lawmakers.


The world's biggest SO2 polluter, China discharged 25.49 million tons of SO2 last year, 27 percent more than in 2000.


The rising discharges of SO2 have resulted in one third of China suffering from acid rain, according to a report released by the country's legislature.


(Xinhua News Agency August 30, 2006)

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