Environmental Crisis Prompts New Legislation in China
Increasing concern over pollution has led to the Chinese government to amend the country’s environmental protection laws for the first time in 25 years. The new measures will greatly increase the Ministry of Environmental Protection’s powers, allowing them to shut down companies that are responsible for pollution. Industrial development will also be restricted in parts of the country.
Recently, the government declassified a document revealing the state of soil contamination in the region. In an extract from the document, researchers said “The overall condition of the Chinese soil allows no optimism. In some areas, soil pollution is relatively severe. The condition of arable land is troubling, with the problem of pollution from industry and mining particularly worrisome.” The report suggested that up to 20 percent of farmland is contaminated with chemicals such as cadmium, nickel and arsenic. Other studies have shown that 60 percent of China’s underground water resources are unfit to drink.
Earlier this month, more than 2.4 million people in the north-west city of Lanzhou were warned not to drink tap water after benzene was found in the local supply. Government officials blamed a crude oil leak from a pipeline owned by a unit of China’s National Petroleum Corp for the problem, which has since been resolved. As well as new powers to be introduced on January 1st 2015, officials also nominated June 5th this year as the country’s first Environment Day.