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China Says Pollution Woes To Ease This Year

One of the main areas of improvement has been in the coal industry, which generates about 70 percent of China's booming energy output.

Huge algal blooms turn Hong Kong's sea red
Hong Kong (AFP) Jun 5 - Huge blooms of algae turned some of the sea around Hong Kong red on Tuesday, forcing the authorities to shut beaches and warn against swimming. The red tides led to the closure of 11 beaches, government officials said, while local press reports claimed the blooms were the biggest since 1998. The tides were formed by a rare but non-toxic species of algae, a spokesman for the Agricultural, Fisheries and Conservation Department said.

"Red tides are natural phenomena. We will monitor the situation and reduce the possible effect they could have on fish farmers and citizens," a department spokesman said. Most red tides are harmless, but a few toxic algae species can kill fish, contaminate seafood and even sicken humans. The algal bloom in 1998, one of the worst in the southern Chinese territory's history, killed 90 percent of its farmed fish, according to press reports.

Further tests were being conducted on water samples taken from beaches Tuesday and fish farmers had been alerted to the situation, the spokesman said. No reports of dead fish in affected areas have emerged yet. Red tides occur 20-30 times annually in Hong Kong, but harmful blooms are uncommon, according to the department's website.

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Jun 05, 2007
The amount of pollution being pumped into China's environment will finally begin to fall this year, the nation's environment ministry said Tuesday, after a similar goal was missed in 2006. "We should see a turning point... this year," Zhang Lijun, the vice minister of the State Environment Protection Administration, told reporters in a briefing to mark World Environment Day.

"This will be the first time in many years that we will see a drop in the overall volume in emissions of major pollutants."

China set targets of reducing emissions of sulphur dioxide and chemical oxygen, two of the main contributors to its status as one of the world's most polluted nations, by 10 percent between 2006 and 2010.

But last year discharges instead increased by 1.8 percent and 1.2 percent respectively over the previous year.

Sulphur dioxide is a product of burning fossil fuels and is the main cause of acid rain, while chemical oxygen demand measures chemicals like nitrogen and phosphorus that choke rivers and lakes by stripping the water of oxygen.

Although the reduction targets were missed last year, the trend was promising as emissions at least began to slow, and the five-year target could still be achieved, according to Zhang.

"Realising our goal of reducing pollution emissions by 10 percent should not be a problem," he said.

"This year our adjustments to industry are expanding and more environmental equipment is going into operation as our environmental protection capabilities are also becoming stronger."

One of the main areas of improvement has been in the coal industry, which generates about 70 percent of China's booming energy output.

In 2005, only 12 percent of China's coal fire electric plants were outfitted with sulphur-removing equipment, but that percentage increased to about 30 percent in 2006, Zhang said.

China also treated 57 percent of its urban waste water in 2006, up from 52 percent in 2005, he added.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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