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11 Polluter Plants Told to Clean Up Act
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The environmental watchdog yesterday warned 11 factories to clean up their act or face fines and even closure.

The enterprises found to have "serious problems" include Baiyin Nonferrous Metals Co in Gansu Province, and Xingtai Iron and Steel Co Ltd in Hebei Province.

Baiyin is China's seventh-largest copper producer with an annual production of about 100,000 tons, while Xingtai has an annual steel production of 2.4 million tons.

The 11 were identified by the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) in a nationwide survey of 78 factories, which began after a November chemical spill in northeast China's Songhua River.

"Recent pollution accidents were caused not only by factories, but also because of an imbalance in the country's industrial structure," said Pan Yue, vice minister of SEPA.

"In the long run, industrial structure and localized environmental crises will replace individual polluters as the No.1 environmental threat in the country," Pan said.

SEPA will conduct a second round of checks on 127 chemical or petrochemical projects for environmental threats.

Located in river basins, coastal regions, densely populated areas or nature reserves, the 127 projects have a combined investment of about 450 billion yuan (US$55 billion).

"SEPA has sent out teams throughout the country for inspections," said Zhang Jianyu, a visiting scholar at the School of Public Policy and Management with Tsinghua University.

"The new round of checks is a more active response and a systematic approach," Zhang said. "But we cannot expect just one examination to identify all the potential threats."

SEPA yesterday also named 10 metal, transportation and power projects under construction or in trial operation near rivers, areas of dense population or nature reserves as posing potentially serious threats to the environment.

(China Daily February 8, 2006)

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