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China Vows Public Disclosure On Environmental Disasters

Among the recent "major disasters" was a toxic benzene spill on northeastern China's Songhua river in November that resulted in public water supplies to four million residents being cut off in Harbin city.
by Staff Writers
Beijing, China(AFP) Feb 06, 2006
China's environmental authority vowed Monday to better inform the public of major water pollution accidents as it announced there had been six such "major disasters" over the past 80 days.

The State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) said there had been 45 water pollution-related incidents over the past 80 days, including six "major disasters".

"In the period to come, the sudden and frequent appearance of environmental accidents will continue to occur," the administration said in a statement posted on its website.

"Due to regional environmental calamities and institutional environmental risks, it is necessary for our nation to strengthen environmental supervision and establish an environmental information disclosure system."

Among the recent "major disasters" was a toxic benzene spill on northeastern China's Songhua river in November that resulted in public water supplies to four million residents being cut off in Harbin city.

The accident also threatened the drinking supplies in Russia's far east.

Another disaster listed was a cadmium spill along the Bei river in China's southern Guangdong province that also threatened the drinking and agricultural waters supplies of millions.

Other major water pollution incidents included chemical spills along northeast China's Hun River and Hunan's Xiang River, and a diesel spill along the Yellow River in Henan province.

SEPA said local environmental departments are now required to inform higher government bodies within an hour of discovering an environmental accident.

A combination of rapid economic development and continued population growth means China is putting unsustainable pressure on its water resources.

Previous government reports have said that more than 70 percent of China's rivers and lakes are polluted, while underground water in 90 percent of Chinese cities is polluted.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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