Three Gorges Probe

China to invest in Three Gorges area pollution prevention

(Febraury 25, 2006) China plans to spend nearly 40 billion yuan (US$4.8 billion) on pollution-prevention measures in the Three Gorges dam area, Agence France-Presse reports.

Beijing – China plans to spend nearly 40 billion yuan (US$4.8 billion) to prevent pollution in the Three Gorges area of the Yangtze River where a giant dam is being built, the Xinhua news agency said Friday. The State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) announced the government will fund a 10-year plan including building more than 260 waste-water treatment plants and 200 garbage treatment facilities at the site, where the world’s biggest hydroelectric station is to be completed by 2009. Facilities will also be built to collect waste from ships and 42 ecological protection projects will be carried out. By 2010, most waste-water and garbage in the area and upstream sections of the river will have to be treated before being discharged, Xinhua said. All enterprises that cause serious pollution in the upper reaches of the river will be shut down by then, it said. Millions of tons of garbage and industrial waste could seriously affect the water quality and operation of the Three Gorges Dam if clean-up measures are not taken immediately, SEPA official Liu Qifeng warned.

Each year, the Three Gorges area and its upper reaches produce 6.58 million tons of garbage and 9.78 million tons of industrial solid waste, China Daily said. At least 30 million tons of industrial solid waste have piled up on the banks of the river, it said. Garbage and waste left untreated along the river will be submerged if not cleaned away by the time the world’s biggest dam is scheduled to be ready for water storage in 2003, Xinhua said. “If the rubbish is left inside the reservoir, the pollution could become worse and normal operation of the hydropower station will be affected,” Liu was quoted by the agency as saying. By investing about 40 billion yuan, the central government will help five provinces build water and garbage treatment facilities, upgrade the pollution control facilities of factories, and improve the environment, he said. By 2010, there will be 146 waste-water disposal centers and 161 garbage treatment plants in cities and towns around the reservoir, Liu said. Paper mills, fertilizer plants, wine breweries, mines and other heavy polluters will be closed if they fail to meet the pollutant emission standards set by the state, he said. The upper reaches of the Yangtze River will be widely reforested to keep the river clean, Liu said. The Three Gorges, in central China, will become the world’s biggest hydroelectric station. But the project, which requires the relocation of more than 1.13 million people, has drawn widespread criticism from environmental groups.

Agence France-Presse, February 25, 2006

Categories: Three Gorges Probe

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