Pol­luted pools spur na­tion­wide probe

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHANG YU in Shi­ji­azhuang and ZHENG JINRAN in Beijing

China has launched a thor­ough investigation into the pol­lu­tion of soil through­out the coun­try and will re­lease the fi­nal re­sults to the pub­lic later, top en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion of­fi­cials said on Fri­day.

“I can de­clare today that the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion will treat all soil pol­lut­ing cases with no tol­er­ance once we have found them,” Tian Weiy­ong, head of the En­vi­ron­men­tal In­spec­tion Bureau un­der the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion, said on Fri­day, af­ter an NGO dis­cov­ered two un­treated sewage pits filled with haz­ardous in­dus­trial waste.

Photos of the pol­luted pools, pro­vided by the Chongqing Liang jiang Vol­un­tary Ser­vice Cen­ter, went vi­ral on Tues­day. The pits were found in Dacheng county of Lang­fang, He­bei prov­ince, and in Tian­jin’s Jing­hai dis­trict.

The min­istry launched an investigation with the He­bei gov­ern­ment im­me­di­ately af­ter the photos were shown online. Ac­cord­ing to the Lang­fang gov­ern­ment, sev­eral of­fi­cials of Dacheng

county in charge of en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion have been sus­pended from their posts, and the lo­cal gov­ern­ment has in­vited ex­perts to work on a plan for restora­tion of the area.

Restora­tion will be com­pleted by the end of Septem­ber, the lo­cal gov­ern­ment vowed.

A pre­lim­i­nary lo­cal investigation found that the sewage had strong acidic qual­i­ties, which was caused by waste from acid-wash­ing at steel and iron plants and elec­tro­plat­ing fac­to­ries, said Yan Jing jun, deputy head of the min­istry’s En­vi­ron­men­tal In­spec­tion Bureau. Yan is in charge of the joint investigation teams with He­bei and Tian­jin.

“But all the pits are lo­cated at de­serted land that is far away from res­i­den­tial ar­eas, and no vil­lagers nearby drink un­der­ground wa­ter,” Yan said.

As for the pits in Tian­jin, the min­istry said the mu­nic­i­pal­ity solved the pol­lu­tion in 14 out of 18 sim­i­lar pits in Jing­hai dis­trict since 2014, and plans to deal with the re­main­ing four pits.

“Ac­tions of pour­ing haz­ard- ous waste into the pools has bro­ken the law and will be dealt with se­ri­ously,” said Tian, the in­spec­tion bureau head.

“We are ex­tremely open to all kinds of NGOs, the pub­lic and the me­dia help­ing to pro­vide over­sight, so we can im­prove our en­vi­ron­ment,” he added.

Ac­cord­ing to China’s Wa­ter Pol­lu­tion Preven­tion and Con­trol Law adopted in 2008, dis­charg­ing nox­ious sewage wa­ter and other waste into wells, pits, cracks and caves is for­bid­den.

Dis­charg­ing pol­lu­tants into pits and wells has been de­fined as a crime of con­tam­i­nat­ing the en­vi­ron­ment based on a ju­di­cial in­ter­pre­ta­tion re­leased in 2013 by the Supreme Peo­ple’s Court and Supreme Peo­ple’s Procu­ra­torate.

IN­FOR­MA­TION SER­VICES DEPART­MENT

Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Le­ung Chun-ying (cen­ter) vis­its the west end of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Ma­cao Bridge in Zhuhai on Fri­day to learn about progress in the project.

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