Beijing still not releasing soil pollution data: Xinhua

  • Xinhua
Technical staff examine soil contaminated by heavy metal pollution. (File photo/Huang Chih-liang)

Technical staff examine soil contaminated by heavy metal pollution. (File photo/Huang Chih-liang)

China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection will not issue data related to soil pollution for the time being but will discuss the situation after an in-depth investigation, the ministry confirmed on Thursday. The ministry said it will be difficult to investigate soil pollution nationwide, adding that it will conduct further investigations in heavily polluted areas.

In January, Beijing lawyer Dong Zhengwei sent an application to the ministry asking it to issue soil pollution data, as well as create detailed measures to handle it.

The ministry said in February that the data is a state secret and refused to issue it. Dong was not satisfied and sent a second request. In response the ministry said soil pollution is still being investigated and related data remains a state secret, adding that data will be released after further evaluation. After news of Dong’s requests spread online, many people began to wonder just how polluted the country’s soil is.

Ma Jun, head of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, said in an interview with the Legal Daily that polluted soil may affect public health via food, crops and underground water.

“Soil pollution is related to public health. Therefore, the public should have the right to be informed about the situation,” Ma said.

 

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FARM NEWS

China says massive area of its soil polluted


by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) April 17, 2014


More dead pigs found in China river: report
Beijing (AFP) April 17, 2014 – At least 170 dead pigs have been found in a Chinese river, state media reported Thursday — the latest in a string of similar incidents that have raised fears over food safety.
The animals were found floating in a tributary of China’s second-longest waterway, the Yellow River, in northwestern Qinghai province, the official Xinhua news agency said.The grim discovery follows a series of scandals involving dead pigs in Chinese rivers. Last year 16,000 carcasses were found drifting through the main waterway of the commercial hub of Shanghai.In Qinghai — the furthest west such an incident has been reported — “the source of the dead pigs is still under investigation,” Xinhua said, citing local authorities.Industry analysts say sick pigs are sometimes dumped in rivers by farmers hoping to avoid paying the costs of disposing of the animals by other means.Around 500 dead pigs are recovered every month from a Chinese reservoir in the southwestern province of Sichuan, state-run media reported in March.

Authorities also found 157 dead pigs last month in a river in central Jiangxi province.

China is a major producer of pork, which surveys have found to be the country’s most popular meat.

 

A huge area of China’s soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

Of about 6.3 million square kilometres (2.4 million square miles) of soil surveyed — roughly two thirds of China’s total area — 16.1 percent is thought to be polluted, the environmental protection ministry said in a report.

The study, which appeared on its website, blamed mining and farming practices among other causes.

“The national soil pollution situation is not positive,” the ministry said, adding that more than 19 percent of the farmland which was surveyed is polluted.

The ministry last year described the results of its soil pollution survey as a state secret and refused to release the results, a move which incensed environmental campaigners.

The government has come under increasing pressure in recent years to take action to improve the environment, with large parts of the country repeatedly blanketed in thick smog and waterways and land polluted.

 

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The American Interest

Filth to Table

Relentless Pollution is Poisoning China’s Food, Soil

© Getty Images

In many parts of China, officials are caught between two competing priorities: industrial development and food production. Most often, officials’ prime concern is industrial development—characterized by factories and mining, usually—since it is the bigger driver of economic growth. But, predictably, unfettered industrial development results in extremely poor conditions for food production. And it’s getting worse. Much worse. An article in yesterday’s New York Times has some sobering statistics.

An alarming glimpse of official findings came on Monday, when a vice minister of land and resources, Wang Shiyuan, said at a news conference in Beijing that eight million acres of China’s farmland, equal to the size of Maryland, had become so polluted that planting crops on it “should not be allowed.” […]

One-sixth of China’s arable land — nearly 50 million acres — suffers from soil pollution, according to a book published this year by the Ministry of Environmental Protection. The book, “Soil Pollution and Physical Health,” said that more than 13 million tons of crops harvested each year were contaminated with heavy metals, and that 22 million acres of farmland were affected by pesticides.

The result of farming on polluted land is unsurprising: poisoned food. 155 batches of rice collected from markets and restaurants in Guangdong Province in May were found to have excess levels of cadmium.

 

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