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Three Gorges Urgently Needs Pollution Control
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According to the State Environmental Protection Administration, construction has not yet begun on 51 of the 147 pollution treatment projects designed for enterprises in the Three Gorges Project dam area and the region upriver.

Moreover, 206 of the 304 small enterprises that were supposed to be closed--including paper mills and leather production plants -- are still operating.

Of the 242 large enterprises that were ordered to reduce pollutant discharge, 227 have failed to reach the specified goals.

The administration recently issued a circular demanding the speeding up of pollution control in the area.

By the end of August, all the pollution treatment projects for enterprises should be started and supervision over enterprises that already meet discharge standards must be strengthened, the document states.

It also urges the phasing-out of small enterprises that are required to be shut down.

Large enterprises that cannot meet the pollution control requirements must upgrade their technology. If they fail to do so, they will be ordered to shut down, officials said.

The Three Gorges project, started in 1993, is designed to generate electricity and contain floods on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River.

With an investment of 180 billion yuan (US$21.8 billion), the project is set for completion in 2009 and is expected to generate 84.7 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually for China, which has been hit by power shortages in recent years.

Environmental concerns have been hovering since the project began.

In addition to the pollution caused by enterprises in the area, waste discharged by ships is a major issue. Experts are calling for a rapid resolution of the problem.

Most of the ships operating in the area of the dam discharge their sewage directly into the Yangtze.

Regulations require sewage to be treated to meet a certain standard before it is released.

At Wanzhou Port, one sailor reportedly said, "Our ancestors used to dump stuff directly into the Yangtze River. Why should we stop just because the Three Gorges Dam is filled?"

(China Daily April 2, 2004)

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