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Sichuan Tackles River Pollution

Sichuan Province will force 430 enterprises to stop discharging excessive pollutants. 

The enterprises do not meet national pollution emission standards. They will be held liable for pollution on the Tuojiang and Minjiang rivers.


Eleven cities and prefectures in the southwest China province signed a responsibility pledge on Tuesday, vowing to crack down on polluters.


The pressure will also be on officials to fight pollution and face rewards or penalties based on their performance.


The Tuojiang and Minjiang feed into China's main shipping artery, the Yangtze River. They are important potable water sources in the densely populated Sichuan.


In recent years they have been seriously contaminated by industrial pollutants.


During March, waste water from a local chemical plant broke through the monitoring networks and flowed into the Tuojiang River, raising the ammonia and nitrogen content in the drinking water more than 20 times the State safety standard.


The pollution also killed about 500,000 kilograms of fish and resulted in damages worth more than 100 million yuan (US$12 million).


The 430 pollutant sources are expected to accomplish updating their discharge system by July 15.


"Or they will be forced to suspend production," said an official with the provincial Environmental Protection Bureau.


As of the end of the year, establishments that fail to control their pollution emissions will be forced to simply go bankrupt, said the official who gave only the name Fang.


New future projects will have to undergo an assessment process to ensure they follow environmental standards.


Of the 430 enterprises under government monitoring, some 190 are in Chengdu, the provincial capital.


A local newspaper said officials' performance in battling pollution will be strictly examined by the provincial government.


Any official who is ineffective in curbing pollution will be to blame and may risk being exposed by the media.


(China Daily June 17, 2004)

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