$3.3 Billion Cleanup for Songhua
Cleaning up the Songhua River benzene spill will cost China some $3.3 billion, according to a report released recently by China’s environmental agency. Fan Yuansheng, a director of the agency, said that China has upgraded its pollution control program, focusing on drinking water sources of large and medium-sized cities along the river. By building wastewater and sewage treatment facilities and promoting clean production methods and other pollution control efforts, the country will strive to make 90 per cent of the river’s water potable within five years, Fan said.
The November accident at a chemical plant on the Songhua sent some 100 tons of benzene into the river. Since then, China’s central government has begun surveying the country’s 21,000 chemical enterprises, more than half of which are located along its two major rivers, the Yellow and the Yangtze. Many of the plants had never undergone environmental impact assessments. A draft report says that protection priority will be given to the water sources of large and medium-sized cities along the Songhua, with the ultimate goal of a healthy clean-water standard for each river sector.
The government also plans to improve the sewage systems for all cities with a population exceeding 200,000. The hope is that by 2010, at least 60 percent of urban wastewater and 95 percent of industrial wastewater will be processed to reach a specific environmental standard before discharge.