Wednesday, May 17, 2006

China says south coast water pollution "serious"

Wed May 17

BEIJING (Reuters) -
China has admitted that measures to tackle
"serious" water pollution in the southern booming province of
Guangdong are not working, state media reported on Wednesday.

Water quality in both coastal waters and inland estuaries remained
poor, the China Daily said, citing Chinese experts.

The drainage of land pollutants to the sea was a key reason for the
poor sea quality and poor ecological environment, the China Daily
quoted Zhong Jianqiang, an environmental researcher, as saying.

Citing a recent environmental report, Zhong added that related waters
inshore, including the mouth of the Pearl River, had been found to be
contaminated with cadmium, arsenic and copper.

Pollutants discharged to the sea via the Pearl River reached 2 million
tons in 2005, Zhong said.

With current measures to control pollution not working, new policies
to control discharges would be drafted, the China Daily quoted Guo
Xingmin, an official with the province's sea and fishing
administration, as saying.

Despite 66 fishing protection zones covering an area of 585,000
hectares, fishermen believe the pollution is contributing to dwindling
catches, forcing them to trawl in more remote waters, the China Daily

"We have to go much further away now to fish," the China Daily quoted
57-year-old fisherman, Peng Chengzhang, as saying.

"Pollution is to blame," he said.

Guangdong's poor environmental report card comes ahead of a planned
mass "swimathon" in provincial capital Guangzhou's stretch of the
Pearl River.

The 10,000-strong swim was planned "to celebrate the better quality of
the river," with Guangzhou mayor Zhang Guangning promising to sign up,
the China Daily reported in March.

No date has been fixed.

In recent years, provincial and local governments have poured billions
into cleaning up Guangdong's waters, but human development and highly
polluting industries continue to take their toll.

Last December, water supplies in several Guangdong cities were hit by
a toxic waste spill from a zinc smelter flowing along the North river.

The accident occurred within weeks of a chemical plant explosion in
China's northern province of Heilongjiang that poured highly toxic
benzene compounds into the Songhua River, endangering water supply for


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