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Key Pollutant Discharge on the Rise
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Inadequate pollution control facilities, rapid urbanization and rising energy consumption have been blamed for an alarming rise in China's key pollution indices in the first half of this year despite the government's environmental targets and control efforts.

The chemical oxygen demand (COD) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) indices both increased during the first six months compared with last year, according to an official report released on Tuesday.

From January to June, the COD, used to estimate the amount of organic matter in wastewater, rose 3.7 percent over the same period of 2005, totaling 6.9 million tons.

SO2 discharge reached 12.75 million tons, up 4.2 percent.

The increase was caused by rising consumption of energy, speeding urbanization and increasing discharge of wastewater, according to the report.

The low-use rate of desulfurizing facilities in new thermal power generators, inadequate or lack of pollution control facilities in industrial projects, and the delayed operation of sewage treatment plants in some cities were also blamed for the results.

Only half of the new thermal power plants put into use in the first half, generating a total 32 million kilowatts of energy, were equipped with desulfurizing facilities.

About 40 percent of the total COD discharge was from the industries such as paper manufacturing, chemicals and textiles, all of which are still growing rapidly, the report said.

"The task of reducing discharges of key pollutants is very arduous," said the report, noting that local governments and central departments must raise the awareness of the responsibility and urgency of environmental protection.

The report was released by the State Environmental Protection Administration, the National Bureau of Statistics, and the State Development and Reform Commission.

China has set a goal in its 11th Five-Year Plan, which aims for energy consumption per unit of domestic gross product (GDP) to drop by 20 percent, and a reduction in SO2 and COD discharge of 10 percent by 2010.

However, major indices show the environment is still deteriorating due to the negligence of local officials who target only fast economic growth, a situation that has drawn criticism from lawmakers.

The world's biggest SO2 polluter, China discharged 25.49 million tons of SO2 last year, 27 percent more than in 2000.

Rising SO2 discharge has resulted in acid rain over a third of the Chinese mainland, according to a report released by the country's legislature.

(Xinhua News Agency August 30, 2006)

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