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Address soil pollution, deputies say

Updated: 2016-04-27 08:07
By Wang Yanfei And Cao Yin (China Daily)

Far more funding available for cleaning up water and air, minister tells top legislators

A recent case of contaminated soil that may have affected students at a school in eastern China has aroused the attention of top legislators.

Deputies of the National People's Congress Standing Committee said on Tuesday that the government should speed up the creation of laws to address soil pollution, which has fallen far behind efforts dealing with air and water pollution.

With air and water, the public can easily identify whether or not an effort is effective, but problems with soil are harder to see.

"Unlike air and water pollution, there are no specific regulations in China for soil pollution," said Du Liming, a deputy, adding that the Ministry of Environmental Protection should take the lead and others should follow.

Money addressing soil pollution should be increased, Du said, noting that a special fund for the prevention of heavy-metal pollution was only 3.7 billion yuan ($570 million), while water pollution got 12 billion yuan and air pollution got 10.6 billion. The figures came from the nation's first environmental report to the legislature, presented by Chen Jining, the environmental minister, on Monday.

China will roll out a national survey to identify hot spots for heavy metals and other toxic pollutants in the soil, Chen said.

Hu Ming, a deputy from Changzhou, Jiangsu province, where a major soil pollution case came to light earlier this month, said the problem is urgent.

Hundreds of students at the Changzhou Foreign Languages School have been diagnosed with a variety of diseases, some of them serious, that may be tied to high levels of pollutants in the soil near the school site, where three chemical plants once operated.

"We cannot wait for more cases like Changzhou to do more," Hu said.

The case is a reminder of how serious the nation's chemical pollution problem is and exposes holes in the way hazardous materials are managed, Hu said.

A survey in 2014 by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Land and Resources found that 1.1 percent of soil samples taken nationwide were severely polluted.

Contact the writers at wangyanfei@chinadaily.com.cn

Address soil pollution, deputies say

(China Daily 04/27/2016 page4)

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