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SPEA report: China speeding up 1st survey on soil pollution

BEIJING, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- China is speeding up its first survey on soil pollution which is costing the country more than 20 billion yuan (about 2.5 billion U.S. dollars) a year, according to the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) recently.

However, the administration did not provide any details of the ways in which they might complete the survey, which began last July, more quickly.

The investigation focuses on farmland protection areas, main grain-producing areas, the Yangtze Delta Region, Pearl River Delta Region, and areas around Bohai Bay.

China launched two nationwide investigations into its soil quality respectively in the 1950s and 1970s but the two previous ones investigated the fertility of the soil rather than soil pollution.

The central government is to allocate 1 billion yuan (125 million U.S. dollars) for the national survey, which will be concluded in 2008.

After the survey, plans will be drafted for soil pollution prevention and pilot projects on rehabilitating and treating the soil will be carried out. A soil quality supervision and management system will also be built.

SEPA director Zhou Shengxian has said that China faces "serious" soil pollution that jeopardizes the ecology, food safety, people's health and the sustainable development of agriculture.

It is estimated that 12 million tons of grain are polluted each year by heavy metals that have found their way into soil. Direct economic losses exceed 20 billion yuan (about 2.5 billion dollars), according to SEPA figures.

(Xinhua News Agency  February 22, 2007)

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