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. Watchdog Calls For severe Punishment For Pollution Cases In China

Officials in the provinces worry more about job creation and social stability than environmental concerns, which they leave for future generation. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Sept 15, 2006
China's top environmental watchdog has called for "severe punishment" of officials responsible for two recent high-profile pollution cases, state media said Friday. Dereliction of duty was to blame for both a lead pollution scandal in northwest China's Gansu province and an arsenic poisoning case in central Hunan province, said the State Environmental Protection Administration.

"The plants appeared to cause the pollution, but in fact the root of the problem lies in the local governments," said Pan Yue, deputy director of the administration, according to the China Daily.

"(The cases are) typical examples of pollution problems caused by dereliction of duty of local governments and environmental bureaus," he was quoted as saying.

As a result, Pan argued, officials must be held accountable, and "harsh administrative punishments" must be meted out.

China's central leadership is gradually waking up to the long-term dangers of environmental pollution, but its interests are at odds with those of local governments.

Officials in the provinces worry more about job creation and social stability than environmental concerns, which they leave for future generations.

In the Gansu case, the factory causing the lead poisoning had been in operation for 10 years without ever meeting national emission standards, according to the paper.

People living near the plant were only recently alerted to the dangers they had been exposed to, and 258 people have now been hospitalized, including 250 children, it reported.

"The illegal pollutant discharge lasted for more than 10 years," Pan said. "The local government and environment bureau definitely will not escape responsibility."

The Hunan case, where the drinking water of 80,000 people was polluted with an arsenic compound, was also not a sudden accident as companies had discharged the substance for a year, Pan said.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Beijing (SPX) Sep 15, 2006
The project will be launched at the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry Asia/Pacific Conference. It will bring together scientists from CSIRO, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), and is sponsored by Rio Tinto, the International Copper Association and the Nickel Producers Environmental Research Association.

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