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Pollution Emissions on Wane in Cleaner China

Emissions of major pollutants sulfur dioxide and chemical oxygen demand, or COD, declined for the first time in China last year, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said on Wednesday.

COD emissions dropped 3.14 percent year on year to 13.84 million tons last year, while sulfur dioxide discharges reached 24.68 million tons, a decline of 4.66 percent from 2006, the ministry said on its Website.

The industrial sector reported a drop in pollutants and waste material discharged into the air and water. Solid industrial waste discharges decreased 8.1 percent to 11.97 million tons last year compared to 2006, the ministry said. However, water pollution is still severe.

The Liaohe River in the northeast and the Haihe River in the north are seriously polluted, followed by medium-level contamination in the Yellow and Huaihe rivers. The Songhuajiang River is only slightly polluted.

The ministry said water quality is fine in both the Zhujiang River in Guangdong Province and the Yangtze River.

The East China Sea was labeled seriously polluted but the Bohai Sea is only slightly contaminated.

In coastal waters, 25.4 percent of the water was classified as Level 4, the worst rating according to the nation's standards. This represents a 1.1 percent increase from 2006, the ministry said. It said 62.8 percent of coastal waters are in good condition, a drop of 4.9 percentage points from 2006.

According to Vice Health Minister Chen Xiaohong, the supply of safe drinking water in the nation is facing severe threats as scarce reserves are being drained by rising industrial production, environmental pollution and a damaged ecology.

China has committed itself to improving energy efficiency by cutting energy consumption by 20 percent per unit of gross domestic product, along with a 10 percent cut in major pollutants, between 2006 and 2010.

It missed both the government's energy-conservation and discharge-reduction goals last year.

China turned down 377 projects in 13 high-energy-consumption industries last year, which amounted to a total investment of nearly 1.5 trillion yuan (US$216.17 billion), the ministry said.

It inspected more than 9,000 new industrial projects in 2007 and punished 1,194 projects for failing to meet environmental requirements.

(Shanghai Daily June 5, 2008)

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