Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Yangtze River Pollution Imperils Hundreds of Millions

The banks of China’s Yangtze River are crowded with chemical factories, which dump massive amounts of toxic waste water into the river, affecting hundreds of millions of people who rely on the river for drinking water. Nevertheless, a Chinese official recently stated that the Yangtze’s water quality “overall is good and can be used safely.”

According to a recent Economics Information Daily report, latest data from the Yangtze River Water Resources Protection Bureau says that the total polluted water discharged into the Yangtze exceeded 33.9 billion tons this year and is increasing at a rate of 2 percent per year.

Data released by the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection last December said there are over 10 thousand chemical factories, five major steel manufacturing centers, and seven major oil refineries along the banks of the Yangtze.

The Yangtze is the longest river in Asia, measuring 6,300 km. It contains 40 percent of China’s water resources and flows through 11 provinces and regions, with around 550 million people living on its banks.

He Chunyin, director of Jiangsu Environmental Protection Bureau, told Ningbo Daily, the majority of cities along the Yangtze get their drinking water from the Yangtze. If the river is polluted, then there is no other water source. Many new chemical factories are now operating in the middle and western regions of China, but since these regions are less developed, there is not much regulation. Consequently, the polluted water will be discharged into the river, affecting the downstream, he said. more