China pollution sources up by more than half since 2010, environment official says

Vehicles commute on a main road during a haze in Beijing, China, on March 28, 2018.
Vehicles commute on a main road during a haze in Beijing, China, on March 28, 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (REUTERS) - The number of pollution sources in China has increased by more than half in eight years, the environment ministry said on Thursday (March 29) as it embarks on a nationwide survey to determine the damage done by more than 30 years of untrammelled growth.

The announcement from the newly minted Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) underlines the challenges facing China, in its fifth year of a war on air, water and soil pollution, as it tries crack down on data fraud and improve monitoring.

The government is currently conducting a second nationwide "environmental census" aimed at identifying pollution threats throughout the country. The first was published in 2010.

"The goal for the census is to do thorough data collection so that it can reflect the extent of the pollution," Hong Yaxiong, the head of ministry's pollution survey office, told reporters at the first regular briefing since the beefed-up ministry was created this month.

The environment ministry absorbed new duties formerly held by the land, water and agriculture ministries as part of the biggest government shake-up in years. It will also now be in charge of climate change and carbon emissions.

The new census is due to be completed in 2019. According to preliminary estimates, the total number of pollution sources now stands at 9 million, including 7.4 million industrial sources, 1 million in rural areas and 0.5 million from urban locations, Hong said.

The first census conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics from 2007 to 2009, uncovered 5.9 million sources of pollution nationwide, with the industrial provinces of Guangdong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang at the top of the list.

The survey also identified 209.8 billion tonnes of waste water, 63.7 trillion cubic metres of waste gas emissions and 3.852 billion tonnes of industrial solid waste nationwide.

Started last year, the second census will widen its scope to include industrial parks, rural pollution sources, boilers, municipal and waste water outlets, and it will also survey soil pollution sources such as mercury, cadmium or lead.