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Harbin Blacklists Top River Polluters
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Forty-six companies along the Songhua River in Harbin have been exposed for causing serious pollution, part of an attempt by local authorities to clean up the tainted waterway.


The companies are the first group of polluters to be exposed and have been ordered to clean up their act immediately, according to Harbin Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau.


The Songhua River is listed by the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) as one of the most heavily polluted rivers in the country.


It gained notoriety after a blast at a chemical plant in November led to water supply in Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, being cut off for four days.


According to Meng Fanfeng, director of the bureau's information office, this move to expose polluters is just the start.


"The 46 companies are the first batch, as more companies still need to be inspected," he said.


"By exposing these companies in the media, we hope that it will raise people's awareness of river protection and we invite the public to keep an eye on these companies.


"The move shows our determination to stamp out heavy polluting industrial sources along the river, which could jeopardize water safety."


"Anyone who contaminates the river will be punished," Meng added.


"If they do make changes for the better and meet the standard in a timely way, they will be removed from the "blacklist." If not, more severe punishments will follow," he noted.


Li Xinglong, senior engineer from the Heilongjiang Provincial Environmental Science Institute who has observed water conditions in the river for years, welcomed the move.


"These industrial pollution sources are definitely the main contributors of pollutants and are responsible for the deterioration of water conditions," he said.


Li is also glad that the campaign has gained State-level attention and support.


"For years we have been craving a substantial or fundamental change in the approach to dealing with its water pollution. I hope this time is for real," he said.


(China Daily July 10, 2006)

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