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SEPA: Primary Effects Achieved on "Banning New Development Projects at River Basin Level" and More Efforts Needed for Comprehensively Enhancing Environmental Protection System

SEPA Vice Minister Pan Yue told news media today that the near-two-month "Banning new development projects at river basin level due to full environmental load" action has obtained primary achievements. A total of 1,162 enterprises and development projects in violation of environmental laws have been streamlined up to August 17, 2007. SEPA has corrected 112 "local policies" not in conformity with national laws and regulations, which has greatly promoted industrial restructuring of the region subject to the banning. However, to comprehensively curb the expansion of the industries and enterprises with heavy pollution and high energy consumption, we need to strengthen the development of environmental protection system in an all round way.

Vice Minister Pan Yue said, SEPA carried out "banning new development projects at river basin level" in 6 cities, 2 counties and 5 industrial parks (zones) in the Yellow River basin, Huaihe River basin, Haihe River basin and Anhui section of the Yangtze River where the water environment is under serious pollution in early July. That is, SEPA will tentatively stop the EIA approval of all construction projects except pollution control and circular economy projects. At the same time, it puts 38 enterprises on the "supervision list". Under the pressure of the banning, relevant local authorities draw a lesson from the bitter experience and take strong measures to the enterprises that violate environmental laws. Among the 1,162 enterprises and projects violating relevant laws, 400 of them have been stopped or closed down, 249 have ceased operation for correction, and 102 are ordered to streamline in the given period of time. A total of 725 million yuan demand pollution discharge fee have been collected with 7.87 million yuan penalty imposed.

Bengfu City in Anhui Province put 18 enterprises with environmental infringements into the supervision list, ordered 2 enterprises to cease operation and 6 such enterprises to make corrections within a given period of time, eliminated 2 such enterprises, demanded the resettlement of another 2 such enterprises in a given period of time and made administrative sanctions or legal investigations against the juristic person of 5 enterprises with serious environmental infringements. Chaohu City in the same province has according to law banned or closed down such enterprises as Hanshan Gaotian Casting Co., Ltd., Xintai Iron & Steel Co., Ltd. and Changlin Paper Manufacturer. Zhoukou City of Henan Province has taken such measures as close down, stop operation for corrections, making corrections in a given period of time and putting it onto the supervision list against 76 key enterprises that discharge pollutants in violation of relevant law. It circulated a notice to criticize the local governments of 5 counties (cities) where the polluting enterprises are in. In Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Bayannur City has arranged 15 streamlining items targeting high-energy consuming industries and metallurgy, paper making and mineral dressing industries. Weinan City of Shaanxi Province has carried out concentrated streamlining activities in all paper making enterprises in the Weihe River basin. It ordered 4 chemical enterprises not meeting the discharge standard to cease production for pollution treatment and the shut-down of 2 out-of-date chemical pulp production lines. Longmen Eco Industrial Park of Hancheng City has shut down 11 coking enterprises and 2 cement enterprises that are not in conformity with the industrial development policies. Baiyin municipal government in Gansu Province has earnestly investigated 238 new construction projects since 2004 and expanded the scope of the streamlining activities and integrated all the environmental infringements identified by the supervision team with members from the General Office of CCCPC and General Office of the State Council, SEPA, SEPA Northwest Supervision Center as well as the provincial and municipal governments in the past few months. Xiangfen County of Shanxi Province has streamlined the construction projects in the industrial zone one by one. It has phased out 11 small coal-washing, mineral processing, chemicals and recycling paper projects and taken close down or ceasing operation measures against other 35 construction projects that do not meet EIA or environmental requirements. Among them, 11 projects stopped construction, 7 projects stopped operation and the remaining 17 projects were ordered to make corrections in a given period of time. It carried out compulsory blasting in Longshunda Coking Plant that did not make corrections even though the deadline came. To strengthen supervision, Baiyin City and Zhoukou City dispatched on-site supervising staff in key pollution enterprises to monitor the pollution discharge during the whole process.

According to Vice Minister Pan Yue, "banning new development projects" does not aim at banning development, it aims to push relevant local authorities making their minds for industrial restructuring. For example, Xiangfen County has phased out the productivity of 800,000 t machinery coke, 1.80 million t cast iron, 8 million t washed coal, 800,000 t concentrate, 70,000 t recycling paper and 100,000 t chemicals products ahead of schedule, involving the fixed assets of over 2 billion yuan. Bayannur City has shut down or banned 66 construction projects that began construction without approval or not in conformity with industrial policy including that of Zhongjian Metallurgy Company in Urad Front Banner. Among the 66 projects, 3 are coking plants, 27 are small iron smelters,3 are small copper smelters, 5 copper mineral dressing plants, 6 iron mineral dressing plants, 4 lead & zinc mineral dressing plants and 1 gold mineral dressing plant. It has set aside the cap quotas for the development of projects that comply with national industrial development policy and local development plans. The sulfuric acid fume pollution in Yinguang Company is a long-lasting problem in Baiyin City. Driven by regional banning of new development projects, the sulfuric acid pollution control project with total investment of 393 million yuan began the construction on August 10. In addition, all the funds for ISP environmental technology reform project of No.3 Smelter of Baiyin Corporation, whose total investment is 294.8 million yuan, has been in place. At public hearing, citizens showed their understanding about and support to the increase of unit price of urban sewage treatment in Baiyin.

Vice Minister Pan Yue said, streamlining the "local policies" going against national environmental laws and regulations is one of the key objectives of "banning new development projects at river basin level". Over the past two months, local governments have identified 112 policies going against national environmental laws and regulations. Among them, Zhoukou City identified 11 out of the 76 municipal documents since 2003, its district and county governments have amended 45 documents and nullified 5. At the same time, the authorities took off the plates of 372 enterprises which aimed at protect the development of those enterprises. Bayannur City has cleared out and nullified
28 municipal documents. Weinan City has cleared out 13 municipal documents. Chaohu City and Handan City authorities have nullified the municipal documents that constrain environmental law enforcement inspections. Wuhu City has streamlined 6 local policies in violation of national environmental laws and regulations. Handan Economic and Technological Development Zone has ceased its terms of reference on environmental approval entrusted by Handan Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau. And all its approved EIA projects in the development zone would be subject to re-examination by Handan Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau. Puyang Economic Development Zone has carried out compulsory stop operation and corrections for all industrial enterprises and construction projects in the zone and the industrial enterprises and begin-construction development projects that have not undergone EIA.

Pan Yue said, the high attention and prompt corrections of local authorities during this round of "banning new development projects at river basin level" are appreciated. However, "banning new development projects at river basin level" does not aim at banning the development. After all, it is a special administrative approach and the affected areas are only a small proportion of total prefectures and cities. To address the problem at the big picture, we need to develop a more conventional and systematic system. For example, the establishment of official environmental protection accountability system and examination system; the establishment of a complete environmental economic policy system and the exploration of setting up an effective post-performance supervision system on environmental protection. Before the establishment of these systems and policies, SEPA will mobilize all forces to carry out continual follow-up supervision on the streamlined polluting enterprises and sample inspection on the enterprises passing EIA approval to see if they honor the environmental commitments.

Vice Minister Pan Yue said, based on the streamlining progress of the enterprises in each region, SEPA is working out the name list of the first group of the areas that will be released from the regional ban.

(This English version is for your reference only.In case any discrepancy exists between the Chinese and English context, the Chinese version shall prevail.)

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