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First Big Step Taken to Battle POPs
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China will take its first big step to combat persistent organic pollutants (POPs) on the mainland, with Zhejiang Province in the east a chief beneficiary of the project.


A PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) Management and Disposal Demonstration Project will be carried on in Zhejiang and northeast China's Liaoning Province in the next four years, the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) said on Friday in Beijing.


As the first exemplary project for China to fulfill its commitment to the Stockholm Convention of reducing and preventing POPs, the project will cost more than US$32 million, among which the Global Environmental Facility will contribute US$18 million and the rest will come from Chinese local governments and other countries, such as Italy, according to Zhuang Guotai, vice-director of the Office for Stockholm POPs Convention Implementation under SEPA.


SEPA plans to eliminate PCBs by 2025.


PCBs had been used in the production of large-scaled capacitors for power plants and paint making in 1960s and '70s. Although currently most of capacitors containing PCBs have been abandoned and buried, there are still about 20,000 such toxic capacitors at work. It is estimated that China has six to eight tons of serious PCBs and 60-80 tons of light PCBs on the mainland, posing great threat on human being's health and the environment.


"We plan to clear the PCBs in 56 storage places in Zhejiang Province," Zhuang said.


"Compared with the achievements in controlling and preventing pollution in soil and water, the country's work in regard to toxic chemicals is relatively backward," said Zhang Lijun, vice-minister of SEPA. "China will strengthen its efforts in this aspect."


However, the country is facing many difficulties in controlling and preventing POPs, Zhuang said.


It is urgent that China make clear the distribution of different kinds of POPs, such as PCBs, a report by the Environmental Science School of Beijing Normal University said. And the country's enforcement capability, technology, on-line management and financing all need to be improved.


China signed the Stockholm Convention on POPs in 2001. It actually has been in effect in China for just one year.


(China Daily January 7, 2006)

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