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Pearl River Waste Harming the Sea
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Guangdong Province must do more to prevent pollution in the estuary area of the Pearl River, which runs into the South China Sea, officials said.

Li Zhujiang, director of the Guangdong oceanic and fishery administration, said yesterday that the Pearl River estuary had been damaged by years of ineffective protection measures.

"The water near the shore has been seriously polluted by industrial, agricultural and urban waste," Li said.

The Pearl River

According to a recent research report by Li's department, Guangdong discharged 2.35 billion tons of industrial waste-water into the sea last year, of which only about 84 percent met pollution-control standards.

About 4.2 billion tons of urban waste, as much as half of which had not been properly treated, was discharged into the sea through the river, the report said.

The report added that sediment collected near the coast was polluted with materials such as inorganic nitrogen, phosphate and petroleum, lead, copper, cadmium, mercury and arsenic.

"Industrial and urban waste are the major culprits behind the worsening ecological conditions near the coast," Li said.

One consequence of these conditions is that the number of fish species has decreased from about 200 in the 1970s to the current 50, Li said.

Besides industrial and urban waste, Li pointed out that efforts to reclaim land from the sea were also to blame for the damaged environment.

Since 2003, Guangdong has approved 63 such projects in search of more land for industrial expansion. So far the province has reclaimed nearly 6,700 hectares from the sea.

"There should be a strict procedure to better regulate such projects. Otherwise, the environment will be further harmed," Li told China Daily yesterday.

More effective measures should be drawn up to prevent industrial and urban waste from finding their way into the sea, Li said.

"The government has spent so much on cleaning the river, but it never set up a special financial foundation to deal with pollution near the sea," Li said.

(China Daily July 25, 2007)

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