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SEPA Fines Power Station Projects
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The State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) announced on Saturday that construction could resume on 26 of the 30 large projects it suspended a month ago. The approved projects have passed environmental impact assessments according to Zhu Xingxiang, division chief of SEPA's environmental impact evaluation department.

The remaining four projects include two power generators at the Three Gorges on the Yangtze River; the main hydropower station at Xiluodu on the Jinsha River, as the headwaters of the Yangtze are known and a power plant in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Zhu said that SEPA is still studying the environmental impact reports on the Three Gorges projects and has required that more information concerning the source of water for the Inner Mongolia project be provided. He declined to comment on the fourth project.

SEPA ordered the construction freeze on January 18. The projects, mostly hydropower stations, thermal power plants and other power projects, were suspected of failing to meet environmental standards.

Meanwhile, SEPA also announced that it had imposed a total of 600,000 yuan (US$72,500) in fines on the China Three Gorges Project Corporation for starting construction of three power station projects without approval by environmental protection authorities.

The company has paid the fine and SEPA is still considering whether to approve the three projects, including the Three Gorges Underground Power Station and the Jinsha River Xiluodu Power Station.

The fines -- 200,000 yuan for each project -- are a tiny proportion of the company's outlay on the projects themselves, each of which has a budget of about 1 billion yuan (US$121 million). However, it is the largest fine imposed since the Law on Environmental Impact Evaluations was implemented on September 1, 2003.

(Xinhua News Agency, China.org.cn February 21, 2005)

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