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Nationwide War on Pollutants Expands

China will tighten the crackdown on the use of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), the State Environment Protection Administration (SEPA) has pledged.

The State Council has just approved the setting-up of a national work group to coordinate the country's efforts to implement the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, said Wang Jirong, vice-director of SEPA, at a meeting on Friday to mark the fourth anniversary of China's signing of the Stockholm Convention.

The 12 priority pollutants addressed in the global treaty include pesticides such as DDT and Mirex, industrial chemicals and unintentional by-products such as Dioxins and Furans.

The pollutants take a long time to degrade and can be transported by air, water or in the food chain, threatening human health and the environment.

The group will be responsible for examining policies, standards, laws and regulations related to pollutant control in China. It is made up of 11 government departments.

"The control of these pollutants should run through their whole life cycle: through production, circulation, utilization, imports and exports, storage, waste disposal and substitute development, so coordinated efforts from different government departments is essential," said Wang.

The work group has its office in SEPA, which will be responsible for daily affairs and international liaison.

"The Chinese Government has made a strong commitment to eliminate pollutants and has achieved substantial progress in the implementation of the convention," Wang said.

She also said addressing pollutant-related environmental problems was a big challenge for China because of a lack of information, technology and funding.

According to the convention, China is expected to hand in a concrete scheme of implementation by November 11, 2006.

To meet the deadline, China is drawing up and improving the scheme as fast as possible, working out the new standards required by the convention in various industries.

China is also looking into finding alternatives to pollutants that are already in extensive use.

On May 23, 2001, the Stockholm Convention on POPs was ratified by 127 countries and opened for signature, the first step in their eradication.

Vice-Director of SEPA Zhu Guangyao signed the Convention on behalf of the Chinese Government.

The convention was ratified by the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, on June 25, 2004, and came into force in China in December last year.

The convention requires that all parties take necessary legal and administrative measures to prohibit and eliminate the production and use of intentionally produced POPs.

"Despite the challenges, we are committed to fully implementing the Stockholm Convention as it benefits both human health and the environment of the world," SEPA Vice-Director Wang Jirong said.

(China Daily May 23, 2005)

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