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February 3, 2010

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Home » Metro » Environment

Ships warned of tougher rules to combat pollution

SHIPS and vessels arriving at Shanghai ports will be subject to tighter checks and face tougher fines if they break a revised national regulation on the prevention and control of marine pollution.

Shanghai maritime supervisors will also be given more powers over marine pollution when the regulation comes into force by March.

They will be authorized to open containers on cargo ships to check goods they suspect are hazardous and have contamination risks.

Officials will be able to look at the goods without the presence of cargo owners.

"The clean and safe water environment is not only a key to the coming Expo but also a threshold to the city's efforts to build a shipping center," said Xu Guoyi, head of the Shanghai Maritime Safety Administration.

Owners of a ship that carries liquid cargo such as oil should first sign agreements with local certificated clearing services, according to the regulation.

In the event of an oil leak, the clearing-up companies, together with the maritime supervisor, will be responsible for dispersing slicks and stopping them spreading.

Fines for violators are expected to top 300,000 yuan (US$43,950), triple the maximum 100,000 yuan listed in the 1983 regulation.

There were five major oil leaks last year as against 10 in 2008. The city suffered its worst oil slick in 10 years on August 5, 2003, when two ships collided in the upper reaches of the Huangpu River. An 8-kilometer stretch of water was affected after 85 tons of oil leaked out. More than 150 people were involved in the clearing-up operation.

The Shanghai government has granted 4 million yuan in subsidies to buy equipment to handle oil leaks within the Expo site. Other equipment costing 49 million yuan is to safeguard waters around the mouth of the Yangtze River.

However, pollution and damage can also be caused by small items.

Officials said waste disposal systems were lax on some vessels.

Sailors and ship crew members had been found throwing plastic wrapping from cigarettes into the water.

"Usually it's those small things that cause a lot of trouble," said Yang Weihua, deputy chief of the maritime safety team at the Yangshan deep-water port, the city's biggest harbor.


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