Zhun­dong is like a mas­sive bat­tery pro­vid­ing en­ergy to dif­fer­ent ci­ties.”

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

the Gobi Desert, de­stroy­ing plants and pos­ing a threat to wildlife.

“We have dis­posed of un­pro­cessed waste from our power sta­tions in the Gobi Desert near our fa­cil­i­ties. We didn’t re­al­ize that this vast, dry land with mea­ger veg­e­ta­tion needed to be pro­tected,” said Jin Pe­ichun, deputy man­ager of Xin­jiang East­ern Hope Non­fer­rous Met­als Co, which owns an elec­trolytic alu­minum plant in Zhun­dong and gen­er­ates elec­tric­ity via its own ther­mal power sta­tions. Xin­jiang East­ern Hope wasn’t the only of­fender, though; three other com­pa­nies have also been found to have dumped waste in the desert.

Now the area is be­ing cleaned up. A small lake of salty waste­water dis­charged from the pro­cess­ing plants and the solid waste that was piled up like a small hill have dis­ap­peared since the company com­plied with an or­der from the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Au­thor­ity to ship the de­tri­tus to a waste pro­cess­ing plant in the eco­nomic zone.

“Un­for­tu­nately, it’s highly un­likely that the plants that were buried un­der the waste will grow back. The Gobi Desert is very frag­ile and although it has ar­eas of nat­u­ral veg­e­ta­tion, it could eas­ily be­come a to­tal desert. Luck­ily, waste­water won’t en­ter the na­ture re­serve’s wa­ter sys­tem be­cause there are no sub­ter­ranean wa­ter cour­ses or reser­voirs here,” said Zheng Min, di­rec­tor of the en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion bureau of the Changji Hui au­ton­o­mous pre­fec­ture, where Zhun­dong is lo­cated.

“The eco­nomic zone is still rel­a­tively young, so we have to pun­ish those com­pa­nies prop­erly to en­sure that oth­ers don’t follow their bad ex­am­ples,” she said. “The zone is so big that some­times it’s ex­tremely dif­fi­cult for us to mon­i­tor ev­ery cor­ner.”

Although the ther­mal power plants in the zone com­ply with the strictest stan­dards for the emis­sion of air­borne pol­lu­tants, Zhang is con­cerned that the east­ern re­gions will en­joy “clean” elec­tric­ity at the ex­pense of the Xin­jiang en­vi­ron­ment.

“China needs to work out a com­pen­sa­tion mech­a­nism be­tween en­ergy gen­er­a­tors and re­cip­i­ents, to en­sure that both sides get an equal share of the ben­e­fits,” she said. Con­tact the writer at cui­jia@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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