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China to Begin First National Pollution Survey in February

BEIJING, China, January 4, 2008 (ENS) - The first nationwide census of pollution sources will start next month, the head of the State Environmental Protection Administration, SEPA, said at a meeting here Friday.

The survey will identify sources of industrial, agricultural and residential pollution and also calculate the number of environmental remediation facilities in operation, said SEPA Director Zhou Shengxian during a meeting held by the State Council, according to the official state news agency Xinhua.

"Collecting data of various pollution sources will be an important basis for environmental protection, a crucial gist for optimizing economic structure and an important step toward an environment-friendly society," said Chinese Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan at the same meeting.

Zhou Shengxian heads China's State Environmental Protection Administration (Photo courtesy ENB)
Environment statistics, monitoring and assessment systems should be improved, Zeng said, adding that findings of the pollution sources survey should be developed and applied.

It will take about two months to collect the data and each piece of information will be reviewed four times before being entered into the database, said Zhou. Data collection will be completed in the first half of this year.

The data collected will be analyzed in the second half of the year, he said. In the first half of 2009, the survey findings will be examined and approved.

Officials from the SEPA and the Ministry of Agriculture will staff the headquarters office of the survey in Beijing, while every province, autonomous region and municipality has set up an office to conduct the survey.

"The result of the census will not be linked to any punishment or evaluation of the performance of local administrations," Zhou said. Any administration, company or institution should not fear repercussions but should instead guarantee true, credible results, he said.

The country has been preparing for the census for more than a year. The central government allocated 737 million yuan (US$100 million) to preparations in 2007.

Construction of a steel mill at Handan in Hebei province (Photo courtesy Zhengzhou Chuandao Machinery Co., Ltd.)

The government is making efforts to reduce pollution, but experts have complained about a lack of trustworthy statistics on the sources and extent of pollution and the number of remediation facilities. These complaints led to the decision by the State Council in October 2006 to conduct the census.

China set its target of cutting energy consumption by 20 percent per unit of gross domestic product and major pollutants by 10 percent from 2005 to 2010.

But it flunked its first test last year. Its chemical oxygen demand, an index of water pollution, grew by 1.9 percent, and sulfur dioxide emissions grew by 2.4 percent in 2006, according to SEPA figures.

Currently, 26 percent of the country's surface water is unusable, 62 percent is unsuitable for fish and 90 percent of the rivers running through cities are polluted.

SEPA Vice-minister Pan Yue said in February that the next round of battle against foul water and air would focus on industries and regions that had not reduced pollution and energy consumption, areas along polluted rivers and lakes, and places suffering from serious pollution accidents and having high potential environmental risks.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.

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