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National Plan to Eliminate Pollutants
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The Chinese government has drafted a plan to phase out the world's most toxic chemicals as required by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, an official with the country's top environmental watchdog said in Beijing on Monday.


"The plan sets the target for the country to control, reduce and eliminate persistent organic pollutants (POPs)," said Yue Ruisheng, deputy director of the International Department of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA).


He said the plan will be submitted to the State Council for approval. Under the Stockholm Convention, China will have to submit its national implementation plan to the convention's secretariat by December 11 this year.


China signed the Stockholm Convention in May 2001, and ratified it in November 2004.


"We have an overall picture of the production, circulation, import and export of POPs such as pesticides," Yue said. "We have also listed major enterprises that emit dioxins."


The SEPA has drawn up a list of the storage sites and dumping grounds of polychlorinated biphenols (PCBs) as well as places polluted by PCBs, he said.


The convention requires all signatories to take necessary steps to ban the production and use of some of the most toxic chemicals.


The top 11 POPs are aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor mirex, toxaphene, polychlorinated biphenols, hexachlorobenzene, dioxins and furan.


Chinese industries still produce and use chlordane, mirex and DDT. Many transformers and capacitors containing PCBs are awaiting safe disposal.


Meanwhile, the amount of dioxins generated in such processes as papermaking, metal production and waste incineration is also an issue of significance, particularly in view of the country's rapidly growing economy.


Waste POPs and places polluted by such chemicals are widespread in the country.


"Despite the challenges ahead, China will firmly implement the Stockholm Convention to phase out POPs," Yue said.


SEPA will step up the supervision of enterprises that discharge POPs, and elimination of outdated industrial products. It will also focus on developing substitute technologies and products to ensure that the economy grows in an environmentally friendly manner, he said.


Of all the pollutants released into the environment every year by human activity, POPs are among the most dangerous, linked with cancer, allergies and hypersensitivity, damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems, reproductive disorders, and disruption of the immune system.


According to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), every person in the world carries traces of POPs in his or her body. POPs are highly stable compounds that can take years or decades to break down.


(Xinhua News Agency May 23, 2006)

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