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January 7, 2011

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Suzhou Creek dredging begins

A DREDGING operation to remove mud from a downtown section of Suzhou Creek began yesterday to eliminate the long-standing pollution problems of the famous waterway once and for all.

After the dredging is completed at the end of June, Suzhou Creek will be clear enough for more fish to return and will not turn murky again, said Zhu Shiqing, deputy director of Shanghai Water Authority.

It will be the first time the mud, which is the result of years of industrial and residential dumping, has been cleared from the canal since the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949.

The project, which is part of the city's third-phase Suzhou Creek treatment project, which started in 1998, will cover 16.4 kilometers from where the creek runs into the Huangpu River in the east of the city to the Zhenbei Road Bridge in the city's west.

Twelve dredging boats will be deployed in different parts of the river to dig out a total of 1.3 million cubic meters of foul-smelling mud from the riverbed of the creek's downtown section, passing through Putuo, Changning, Zhabei and Huangpu districts.

People living along the creek or passing by might notice a temporary bad smell during the operation, especially on warmer days, as mud is scooped up, Zhu said.

About 140 barges will shuttle the mud immediately after it is dug out to a new landfill site in Laogang in Minhang District, which was built for the -dredging project.

Zhu said no mud will stay overnight on the riverbank after being dug out.

The authority had planned to make the mud into bricks after drying and environmental protection treatments, but later found the processing cost to be too high.

Firefighters will be on standby in case any bombs are dug out from the Chinese War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression from 1937 to 1945, said Wang Ke, chief of the Shanghai Administration of Dykes and Sluices.

Wang, who is in charge of the Suzhou Creek treatment project, said some shells had been dug out during previous projects on the river, but none of them could explode after being immersed in water for such a long time.

The condition of the creek has improved substantially since the beginning of the 14 billion yuan (US$2.13 billion) water treatment project in 1998, he said.

The water stopped smelling and it's clarity improved from 2000 - it began attracting fish again in 2001.


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