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China Tightens Regulations to Better Protect Oceans
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The Chinese government on Friday published a regulation on protecting oceanic environments from construction pollution, vowing to tighten control on approvals of marine projects.


The regulation, issued by the State Council and due to take effect from Nov. 1, aims at new, upgraded and extended projects along the coastline that exploit, utilize, protect and restore marine resources.


The location of the projects, such as power plants, seabed tunnels, seafood breeding areas and sightseeing spots, cannot affect the environment of the sea area or adjacent waters.


Project managers must make environment assessment reports to sea administration departments before construction starts. Approval can only be given after collecting opinions from maritime and fishing departments, and public hearings if necessary, the regulation says.


Proposals for sea enclosures and filling projects must undergo public hearings before a decision on approval.


Sea administration departments must approve or reject the reports within 60 working days. Reports of projects involving national security, exploitation of mineral resources, power generating and large-scale sea enclosures and filling must be submitted to the State Oceanic Administration (SOA).


Evaluations of marine environmental impacts have been launched on all current oil exploitation and seabed tunnel projects, according to the SOA.


The regulation also requires that environmental protection facilities should be built and put into use during the main construction. The project cannot start operation without checks and approvals of environmental protection facilities by authorities.


Discharge of toxic and harmful waste, such as oil, plastic, acids, radioactive liquids and gases, is strictly controlled or forbidden. Pollutant dischargers must pay discharge fees to local commercial banks.


Coordination between oceanic administration departments and oil exploitation departments must be strengthened to improve emergency response plans and prevent serious oil leaks.


The SOA will enhance monitoring of waste discharges and publish regular reports.


The regulation also underlines inspection and supervision of governments and classifies penalties on project operators who disobey the rules or cause pollution accidents.


Any organization or individual is entitled to report in confidence to the authorities projects that cause pollution or damage the marine ecological system.


(Xinhua News Agency October 7, 2006)

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