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River Polluters 'Named and Shamed'

Along the Songhua River in Harbin 46 companies have been exposed for causing serious pollution as part of a campaign by local authorities to clean up the waterway, the Harbin Daily reported on July 7.

The companies are the first group of polluters to be exposed and have been ordered to clean up their acts immediately, according to Harbin Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau.

By the end of June the environmental protection bureau had organized related departments to conduct investigations into four pollution incidents involving drinking water sources in Zhushuntun, Sifangtai, Mopanshan and Xiquanyan.

The Songhua River is listed by the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) as one of the most heavily polluted rivers in the country.

It gained notoriety after a blast at a chemical plant in November last year led to water supplies in Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, being cut off for four days.

According to Meng Fanfeng, director of the bureau's information office, this move to expose polluters is just the start. "The 46 companies are the first batch as more companies still need to be inspected," he said.

"By exposing these companies in the media we hope it will raise people's awareness of river protection and we invite the public to keep an eye on these companies," Meng added. "The move shows our determination to stamp out heavy polluting industrial sources along the river which could jeopardize water safety."

"Anyone who contaminates the river will be punished," Meng added. "If they do make changes for the better and meet the standard in a timely way they'll be removed from the 'blacklist.' If not severe punishments will follow," he said.

Li Xinglong, senior engineer from the Heilongjiang Provincial Environmental Science Institute, who has observed water conditions in the river for years, welcomed the move.

"These industrial sources are definitely the main contributors of pollutants and are responsible for the deterioration of water conditions," he said.

Li is also glad the campaign has gained state-level attention and support.

"For years we have been craving a substantial or fundamental change in the approach of dealing with water pollution and I hope this time it's for real," he said.
(China Daily, Harbin Daily, July 10, 2006)

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