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SEPA Calls for Quick Reporting of Pollution
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Pollution accidents must be reported within an hour after they are discovered, China's environmental watchdog said yesterday.

Accidents should be reported to local governments or environmental protection bureaus, the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) said.

Serious accidents have to be reported directly to the State Council or SEPA.

The authorities are to investigate accidents immediately after receiving the report; and those who fail to report in time will be punished for dereliction of duty, SEPA said.

"With such a reporting system, SEPA will keep the public updated with the latest and most accurate information," a SEPA spokesperson said.

The announcement follows a series of pollution cases in the last three months, the biggest of which was benzene pollution in northeast China's Songhua River, caused by a chemical factory explosion in November. Since then, SEPA has received reports of more than 40 environmental accidents.

Most of them were related to water pollution, including cadmium pollution in the Beijiang River in south China's Guangdong Province.
According to a recent national survey, more than half of the country's 21,000 chemical enterprises are located along the country's two major river basins, the Yellow and Yangtze rivers. Many of the plants did not undergo environmental-impact assessments and were built in residential areas or on upper reaches of rivers.

After the Songhua River pollution, the environmental authorities of Jilin Province were criticized by SEPA for poor work in reporting the case in a timely manner.

(China Daily February 7, 2006)

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