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May 8, 2010

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Home » Metro » Environment

Fouled seas at city's doorstep

THE aquatic environment around Shanghai was the most seriously polluted in the East China Sea last year, State Oceanic Administration officials warned yesterday.

And the polluted area was growing fast, increasing by 60 percent from 2008 to 2009.

Much of the pollution was coming not from Shanghai itself, but draining out of the Yangtze River from China's interior.

"The polluted sea areas surrounding the city were not only caused by local waste outlets, but more by the wastes carried by the Yangtze River from other cities and provinces," said Jia Jianjun, deputy director of East China Sea Bureau of State Oceanic Administration.

The bureau yesterday released its 2009 report on the environmental quality of the East China Sea.

It showed that more than 91,950 square kilometers failed to reach the clean sea water standard, with an area of 51,830 square kilometers polluted to some degree.

According to the report, the sea areas surrounding Shanghai were all listed as "severely polluted."

The main pollutants are inorganic nitrogen, phosphate, lead and mercury.

Jia said 12 million tons of pollutants had been found flowing into East China Sea, with about 58 percent of the pollutants coming from the Yangtze River.

The pollutants were mainly let out by drain outlets from Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Fujian provinces; 83 percent of the 144 outlets monitored in the survey were excessively discharging pollutants beyond the stipulated standards.

Cleaning all this up would cost up to 9 billion yuan (US$1.3 billion), Jia said -- funds the bureau doesn't have.

About 21,570 square kilometers of the East China Sea were measured as severely polluted, including the Yangtze Estuary, Hangzhou Bay, Zhoushan Islands. Shanghai's coastal areas of Fengxian and Jinshan District were partly polluted by copper.

Another 13,800-square-kilometer area of the sea was under moderate pollution and a 16,460-square-kilometer area was lightly polluted.

In 2008, the polluted area of East China Sea was smaller: 32,470 square kilometers.

The pollutants, along with excessive fishing and ocean construction, have disturbed the aquatic ecosystem of East China Sea, degrading the system to an unhealthy state.

Jia said his bureau was trying to recover the ecosystem of the sea by conducting environmental evaluation before allowing ocean construction and reducing the emission of drain outlets.

He said the bureau had already carried out a pilot project to revive polluted sea areas around Xiamen, but they need up to nine billion yuan to recover the whole of East China Sea ecosystem.

The report defined clean sea as water that could be used for fishing, rare aquatic life protection and marine reserves. Lightly polluted sea should only be used as industrial water.

Severely or moderately polluted waters are suitable only for ocean ports or the ocean development zone.


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