Wednesday, September 06, 2006

China gets tough on polluters

China is having a major crackdown this month on industrial pollution in two major industrial provinces. The State Environmental Protection Agency is focusing its attention on chemical plants, paper mills, food processing companies, pharmaceutical factories and sewage treatment plants that border the Songhua River. In November last year a major pollution incident in this river meant water supplies were temporarily cut to 3.8 million people. It's hard to imagine the state legislators haven't got one eye on the Beijing olympics and the potential embarassment a repeat of this incident could cause.

There has been suspicion for some time that corruption in China limits the effectiveness of environmental legislation. As if to acknowldge these suspicions, the Xinhua News Agency notes that, as part of the current crackdown,

Officials who attempt to cover-up or pass the buck during the clean-up campaign will be charged with obstruction and companies that violate environmental laws will be exposed in the media. Their managers may be prosecuted and charged with a criminal offence.

It sounds like China means business, but it remains to be seen whether these efforts will be sustained.

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