Archive for the ‘air pollution’ Category

Vietnam Rejects Steel Mill for Environmental Concerns

November 14, 2008

Vietnam has rejected a proposal by South Korea’s Posco Group to build a 5.4-billion-dollar steel mill near a coastal resort, citing environmental concerns, state media reported on Friday.

The hot-rolled steel mill proposed for south-central Nha Trang’s Van Phong Bay would have breached environmental protection rules, said a decision from Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, according to the Tien Phong (Pioneer) daily.

AFP

The headquarters of POSCO in Seoul. Vietnam has rejected a proposal ... 
The headquarters of POSCO in Seoul. Vietnam has rejected a proposal by the South Korean group to build a 5.4-billion-dollar steel mill near a coastal resort, citing environmental concerns(AFP/File/Jung Yeon-Je)

The newspaper, and other media reports, said another reason the government scrapped the project was that it would have clashed with the planned development of a major container port in Van Phong Bay.

Dung asked Khanh Hoa province leaders to discuss other possible sites for the mill, according to the news website VietnamNet.

The premier, in a televised address to the national assembly on Thursday, said the communist government had “refused a project worth 4-5 billion dollars in steel” for environmental reasons, without naming the project.

He added that the government was determined to prevent further pollution in the country of 86 million people, where rapid industrialisation since the 1990s has caused widespread river and air contamination.

In January local authorities had given Posco and local ship builder Vinashin the green light to build the mill, including a 1,000-megawatt power plant.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081114/sc_afp/vietnam
skoreasteelposco_081114041832

Problems creep out past official front in China

March 20, 2008
BEIJING — Last month, Olympic organizers were showing off a new basketball arena and denied that any residents were forcibly evicted to build the many sites for the Summer Games. But the Olympic Media Village sits where Li Yukui and his neighbors had to leave their homes.

Olympic officials promised to clean Beijing’s severe air pollution, but an Ethiopian runner said last week that he won’t run the marathon because breathing the air could harm his health.

And the neighborhood volunteers touted for learning English to give directions to visitors instead spend their time monitoring residents and even confronted one pregnant woman about whether she was violating China’s one-child policy.

Five months before the Olympics, China is discovering the difficult line between promotion of its many successes and concealment of deep problems that dog the communist nation.

China’s crackdown on pro-independence protests in Tibet is just one front of this struggle. The world’s most populous nation wants to present a united image of harmony and prosperity. But the ruling Communist Party, which bristles at outside criticism, sometimes contains dissidents and ignores human rights complaints.

Riot police take a rest on a street in Tongren, in China's Qinghai ...
Riot police take a rest on a street in Tongren, in China’s Qinghai province, March 17, 2008.(Kyodo/Reuters)

Read the rest:
http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2008-03-19-chinaimage_N.htm?csp=34

China Concerned for Mine Safety

February 18, 2008

BEIJING – China‘s work safety agency warned Monday that a new wave of accidents could be triggered as coal mines shut by the wintry weather resume operations.

The State Administration of Work Safety warned on its Web site that the buildup of deadly gases, flooding and unstable power supply at the mines could all cause problems.

Nearly 1,800 mines in the southern provinces of Jiangxi, Hunan, Guizhou and Yunnan — all hit hard by freak snowstorms — have accumulated gases because they were forced to shut down because of power cuts, it said. Another 600 mines have been flooded.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080218/ap_on_re_as/china_coal_mines_2

 
China’s Mines Killed More Than 3,700 Last Year: Corruption a Problem

By Edward Cody
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, February 18, 2008; Page A10

LINFEN, China — Mining has resumed in the frigid shafts, and long lines of 18-wheelers laden with coal once again clog the twisty mountain roads leading out of Linfen. This grime-covered city, where the packed snow long ago turned black and carbon-colored dust hangs in the air, has reclaimed its role as the capital of coal.

A gas explosion in December threatened Linfen’s boom ways. The accident, at a suburban mine, killed 105 workers and led authorities to halt this region’s production of the coal so badly needed to fuel China‘s roaring economy. The businesses in Linfen, in Shanxi province 400 miles southwest of Beijing, were hit hard. “They wouldn’t let anybody work,” complained Liu Wancong, who runs a small grocery in the city center.

The toll from the explosion ranked as the year’s second-worst. The government reported 3,786 miners killed in 2007, a 20 percent drop from 2006 but still making the country’s mines the most dangerous in the world.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/17/AR2008021702229.html

China, Vietnam: Global Issues

January 11, 2008

To U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte;

Dear Sir;

The Public Affairs section of your U.S. State Department announced yesterday that you would travel to China and Vietnam January 16-20, 2008.

John Negroponte
John Negroponte

We know you are well aware of the many issues of interest to the United States and the greater global community with regard to China and Vietnam but we fear that sometimes the niceties of diplomatic discourse mutes the message to China and Vietnam.

Here are the top issues we urge you to consider raising in Beijing and Hanoi:

Human Rights: Both China and Vietnam are on the list of nations who routinely violate human rights. The U.S. Department of state and the United Nations have documented many abuses yet the consequences for the communist governments of China and Vietnam have been inconsequential. China agreed to alleviate human rights abuses during its selection to host the Summer Olympic games later this year. Vietnam said it would address human rights more directly as it was seeking acceptance to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Most human rights organizations say those promises from China and Vietnam turned out to be lies – and the world community has largely stood by idly.

Darfur: China is Sudan’s number one trading partner; yet China continues to largely look the other way at the abuses and possibly even genocide in Darfur. In the last few days, two news items highlighted this problem. First, U.N. peacekeeping chief Jean-Marie Guéhenno told the Security Council on Wednesday that U.N. peacekeeping forces lack the troops and equipment necessary to improve the situation in violence-wracked Darfur and will continue to be ineffective until mid-2008. And, Second, China’s senior diplomat for Sudan and Darfur denied any linkage between the human rights abuses in Darfur and China’s Olympic Games. Liu Guijin, special envoy for Darfur, said China cannot be held responsible for the actions of the government of Sudan. But we wonder if China has exerted its influence in Sudan commensurate with its vast business interests there including oil drilling, infrastructure projects and weapons sales.

Pollution: China and Vietnam are now among the world’s leaders in pollution and global warming. Both nations have extremely high degrees of polluted ground water, much of it caused by over-use of pesticides and fertilizers. We urge the United States to offer ways to ameliorate this problem though training, scientific applications and the use of better methods and chemicals. China’s air pollution is now so severe that Olympic teams are expressing concern for the health of their athletes and nations such as Japan have protested that the air pollution produced in China is now impacting nations around the globe. We urge the United states to continue to raise this issue with Beijing.

Beijing is rushing to make its air clean for the 2008 Olympics, but experts say it will be impossible for the site to be totally safe for athletes at the global sporting event.

Above: A beautiful, sunny morning near Beijing.

Territorial and Resources dispute: China and Vietnam are embroiled in a long-standing dispute over islands and resources in the South China Sea. We urge you to pledge that the United states will participate in resolution of this dispute if asked and certinly the united nations might be able to assist in this matter. The disagreement came to a boil in November and December after China reasserted its claim to the islands. The people of Vietnam reacted so vocally in protests and blogging that China asked the communist government in Vietnam to quell the dissent. This ugly dispute, without resolution, has many possible outcomes: all of which would be harmful to regional peace and stability.
A Vietnamese protestor demonstrates against a Chinese move to exert control over two disputed archipelagos 
China’s actions in the South
China Sea sparked protests
in Vietnam

Dear Sir; we appreciate your efforts dealing with China and Vietnam and offer these suggestions for the future benefit of all mankind.

Peace and Freedom

Related:

Rice’s deputy to visit China, Vietnam

Chinese Envoy Denounces Efforts to Link Darfur Concerns, Beijing Olympics

Darfur peacekeeping set back by 6 months

China blogger beaten to death

Secretary Negroponte: Secure The Release of At Least One Jailed In Vietnam
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China is the World’s E-Waste Dumping Ground

January 5, 2008

By Terry J. Allen
In These Times
January 5, 2008

The highway of poisoned products that runs from China to the United States is not a one-way street. America ships China up to 80 percent of U.S. electronic waste — discarded computers, cell phones, TVs, etc. Last year alone, the United States exported enough e-waste to cover a football field and rise a mile into the sky.

So while the media ride their new lead-painted hobbyhorse — the danger of Chinese wares — spare a thought for Chinese workers dying to dispose of millions of tons of our toxic crap.

Most of the junk ends up in the small port city of Guiyu, a one-industry town four hours from Hong Kong that reeks of acid fumes and burning plastic. Its narrow streets are lined with 5,500 small-scale scavenger enterprises euphemistically called “recyclers.” They employ 80 percent of the town’s families — more than 30,000 people — who recover copper, gold and other valuable materials from 15 million tons of e-waste.

Unmasked and ungloved, Guiyu’s workers dip motherboards into acid baths, shred and grind plastic casings from monitors, and grill components over open coal fires. They expose themselves to brain-damaging, lung-burning, carcinogenic, birth-defect- inducing toxins such as lead, mercury, cadmium and bromated flame retardants (the subject of last month’s column), as well as to dioxin at levels up to 56 times World Health Organization standards. Some 82 percent of children under 6 around Guiyu have lead poisoning.

While workers reap $1 to $3 a day and an early death, the “recycling” industry — in both the United States and China — harvests substantial profits. U.S. exporters not only avoid the cost of environmentally sound disposal at home, but they also turn a buck from selling the waste abroad. After disassembly, one ton of computer scrap yields more gold than 17 tons of gold ore, and circuit boards can be 40 times richer in copper than copper ore. In Guiyu alone, workers extract 5 tons of gold, 1 ton of silver and an estimated $150 million a year.

Many U.S. exporters pose as recyclers rather than dumpers. But a 2005 Government Accountability Office report found that “it is difficult to verify that exported used electronics are actually destined for reuse, or that they are ultimately managed responsibly once they leave U.S. shores.”

This dumping of toxic waste by developed countries onto developing ones is illegal under the Basel Convention, a 1992 international treaty that was ratified by every industrialized nation — except the United States.

Unhindered by international law and unmonitored by Washington, U.S. brokers simply label e-waste “recyclable” and ship it somewhere with lax environmental laws, corrupt officials and desperately poor workers. China has all three. And a packing case with a 100-dollar bill taped to it slips as easily as an eel through Guiyu’s ports.

E-waste fills a neat niche in the U.S.-China trade. America’s insatiable appetite for cheap Chinese goods has created a trade deficit that topped $233 billion last year. While e-waste does little to redress the financial disparity, it helps ensure that the container vessels carrying merchandise to Wal-Mart’s shelves do not return empty to China.

In the 19th century, England faced a similarly massive deficit with China until a different kind of junk — opium — allowed it to complete the lucrative England-India-China trade triangle.

Britain, after destroying India’s indigenous textile industry and impoverishing local weavers, flooded its colony with English textiles carried on English ships. The British East India Company fleet then traveled to China to buy tea, silk and other commodities to sate Europe’s appetites for “exotic” luxuries. But since there was little the Chinese wanted from either India or Europe, the ships traveled light and profitless on the India-China side of the triangle. That is, until England forced Indian peasants to grow opium and, in the process, precipitate mass starvation by diverting cultivable land.

The trade fleet then filled up with opium and pushed it to China through the port of Canton. Since opium was illegal in China, Britain started a war in 1839 to force Peking to accept the drug. By 1905, more than a quarter of China’s male population was addicted.

Now it is Americans who are addicted to Chinese junk. And our own government policies and corporations are the ones stoking the jones. Slick marketing and consumer fetishism push Americans to buy the latest, lightest, biggest, smallest, fastest, trendiest items. And even if you are not hooked on the latest gadgets, repairs or upgrades are impractical. The half billion computers we trashed in the last decade have to go somewhere, and shipping them to China and other poor nations is a win-win solution for Chinese and U.S. industry.

As for the populations of both countries, we can feast on the irony that the same ships that carry toxic toys and food ingredients to Americans return bearing deadly e-waste for the Chinese.

Terry J. Allen is a senior editor of In These Times. Her work has appeared in Harper’s, The Nation, New Scientist and other publications.

As China Olympics Nears; Pollution Fears

December 29, 2007
BEIJING — Every day, monitoring stations across the city measure air pollution to determine if the skies above this national capital can officially be designated blue. It is not an act of whimsy: with Beijing preparing to play host to the 2008 Olympic Games, the official Blue Sky ratings are the city’s own measuring stick for how well it is cleaning up its polluted air.

Beijing residents in Tiananmen Square, used to pea-soup smog, ignored a citywide stay-indoors warning on Thursday. (Photo by Oded Balilty, AP)
**************
Thursday did not bring good news. The gray, acrid skies rated an eye-reddening 421 on a scale of 500, with 500 being the worst. Friday rated 500. Both days far exceeded pollution levels deemed safe by the World Health Organization.
We’re definitely hoping for the best,” said Jon Kolb, a member of the Canadian Olympic Committee, “but preparing for the worst.”
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China: Despite Tough Talk, Water Crisis and Pollution Problems Unresolved

October 23, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
October 23, 2007

The International Rice Research Institute and the China Agricultural University, pioneers in the development of aerobic rice growth, say that China will increase production of rice grown without the traditional water flooded field from 1% in China currently to 30%.

China says the aerobic rice is needed by the world’s largest rice producer and consumer due to a lack of water. China is rapidly depleting water supplies though industrial uses, consumer use and pollution. Global warming is also blamed for a reduction in water resources.

Severe water shortages are turning more and more Chinese farmland into desert.

Wang Huaqi, an aerobic rice breeder at the China Agricultural University, said the university has been working on aerobic rice that is grown like the upland crops of wheat and corn for many years.

Aerobic rice requires 50 percent to 70 percent less water than the “flooded field” or traditional rice.

As Asian nations like Japan have become more developed, demand for rice has decreased as eating habits have changed. But in China, demand for rice is at an all time high.

China also imports rice from sources such as Vietnam, which recently announced that it will increase rice exports.Contributing to China’s water woes is an ever worsening environmental disaster.

According to New York Times reporters Joseph Kahn and Jim Yardley, nearly 500 million people in China lack access to safe drinking water. China’s population is 1.3 billion. As the middle class grows and people become more affluent, water use per person is skyrocketing.

“It is a very awkward situation for the country because our greatest achievement is also our biggest burden,” says Wang Jinnan, one of China’s leading environmental researchers.

“There is pressure for change, but many people refuse to accept that we need a new approach so soon,” said Mr. Wang.

The New York Times reporters concluded that China’s leadership and authoritarian system are addicted to fast growth. Delivering prosperity placates the public, provides spoils for well-connected officials and forestalls demands for political change. A major slowdown could incite social unrest, alienate business interests and threaten the party’s rule. Therefore, installing new environmental restrictions is extremely difficult.

But China’s leaders assert that they are serious about new environmentally smart measures.

Vowing to overhaul the growth-first philosophy of the Deng Xiaoping era, and embrace a new model that allows for steady growth while protecting the environment., Prime Minister Wen Jiabao made 48 references to “environment,” “pollution” or “environmental protection” during his annual “State of the State” address.

At the recent Communist Party Congress, President Hu Jintao also embraced environmental issues — at least in his rhetoric.

Elizabeth C. Economy, director of Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relation and author of a book on China’s environment, “The River Runs Black,” says there is no way of knowing how China will solve its difficult pollution problems.

The lack of transparency and China’s failure to take more stringent measures are worrying environmental activists. Economy said there appears to be a reluctance to do anything that would hinder the country’s fast-paced economic growth.

“I think it is a striking indication of just how deeply capitalism, or perhaps individualism, has permeated China that some people would put profit before national pride,” Economy said.

China is trying hard to ensure that it is seen as a modern, technologically advanced and open country during next year’s Olympic Games. But water and air pollution are difficult to hide and are already of concern to the coaches of several Olympic participating nations.

*************
Editor’s Note: China has been plagued by unusual algae growths that spoil lakes and kill fish. Often, run-off from agriculture or industry causes unusual mutations.  The article below is an example of a recent news report from China.

Algae-polluted lake in E. China poses
danger to rare fish

Xinhua State Controlled China News
October 14, 2007

Blue-green algae has caused water pollution in Chaohu Lake, China’s fifth largest fresh water lake, in east China’s Anhui Province, where the rare whitebait production is on the decline.

The output of the whitebait, a small sprat and famous for its fresh and tender meat, has dropped by 500 tons, or 20 percent lower in this year’s fishing season compared with the previous one.

“The delicate whitebait, which requires a high-standard of water quality, is disappearing mainly because of the rampant blue-green algae in the lake,” said Chen Jianqun, head of the Bureau of Fisheries of Chaohu City.

From June to August 2007, the nutrient runoffs and other pollutants caused blue-green algaes to bloom in China’s Taihu Lake, Chaohu Lake and the Dianchi Lake, endangering water supply in nearby cities and posing great threat to the aquatic life in the lakes.

“I have never seen a year like this one when the output of the whitebait is so low,” said Liu Yejun, a fisherman whose family has been living on fishing in the Chaohu lake for years.

The stinky algae-rich water has also given rise to the parasite, which further endangered the whitebait, according to Chen.

Experts with the Anhui Agricultural University have warned that the sharp drop of whitebait production is a warning signal of the lake’s eco-system.

Source: Xinhua

Related:
China to spend 14 billion dollars on polluted lake clean-up

“Where Did My Lucky Go?” Asks China’s Hu Jintao

August 21, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
August 21, 2007

China’s President Hu Jintao might be fed up with his “wonderfully pleasing idea” to bring the Olympics to Beijing.

He has seen his nation come under ever increasing scrutiny. People want to know about China’s record on human rights, HIV/AIDS, global warming and the environment and just about everything else.

胡锦涛
Hu Jintao
Hu Jintao

When things go horribly wrong you might expect to hear someone from China utter, “Where Did My Lucky Go?”

Luck, or more appropriately, “good fortune,” is one of the centerpieces of Chinese life.

When you live in a godless society, luck takes an even larger role.

So all of good fortune was implored as the one year countdown to the Olympics started in China earlier this month.

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge marked the start of the one-year countdown with a lavish Chinese-style ceremony that stared on the 8th day, of the 8th month at 8 PM and 8 minutes 8 seconds.

Eight is a lucky number in China.

But to the Chinese, Tiananmen Square has not always been lucky — especially for those seeking democratic and human rights reforms.

Chinese tanks mowed down pro-democracy demonstrators 18 years ago right where tonight’s Olympic ceremonies commenced.

“Not lucky place” a Chinese friend said to me as we watched events unfold.

Yesterday, the “not lucky place” was shrouded in toxic air pollution as Beijing completed a four day test with more than one million cars off the road. Unfortunately, the test was supposed to prove that by removing one million cars from Beijing the city would enjoy cleaner air.

Beijing is rushing to make its air clean for the 2008 Olympics, but experts say it will be impossible for the site to be totally safe for athletes at the global sporting event.

The test failed. Air pollution, as measured by the official state environmental agency, was up from three days ago.

President Hu Jintao of China must be saying about now, “Where Did My Lucky Go?”
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President Hu has a host of other issues dogging him: Darfur, the poisoned food scandal, the poisoned toy scandal and a mine disaster of epic proportions.  Read more at:

If China Has Nothing to Hide, Why Do They Hide So Much So Often?

China Plans Happy Olympics But A Few “Small” Problems Remain

China Planning a Surreal Facade for Summer Olympic Games: Beijing 2008

Beijing’s Pollution Rises in 4-Day Test Of Restricted Driving

Psst. China! Enforce your laws, make new regulations where needed, admit the truth and wash your hands!

Beijing’s Pollution Rises in 4-Day Test Of Restricted Driving

August 21, 2007

By Maureen Fan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, August 21, 2007; Page A10

BEIJING, Aug. 20 — Despite a move by authorities to slash the number of motorists in Beijing by more than a million during a pre-Olympics pollution test, the city’s skies remained a hazy white Monday evening and pollution levels showed a slight increase over the four-day trial period, Beijing’s Environmental Protection Bureau said.

A top Chinese environmental official attributed the increase to humid weather and said pollution levels had been higher just before the test began.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/20/
AR2007082002011.html

air.

China is one of the world's most-polluted countries. Most of the fine dust that pollutes Beijing comes from industry in the nearby Heibei province.

If all that pollution is not from the cars, how on earth is it produced?

Smog, Protest Cloud China’s Olympic Send Off

August 8, 2007

BEIJING (AP) – The Olympic Games are a year away, but protests have already begun from groups who want the event to change China.Also clouding the picture Tuesday was a thick blanket of smog that has hovered over the city for weeks—not the blue skies hoped for by the organizers of the Beijing Games.

Officials including International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge will mark the start of the one-year countdown with a lavish ceremony Wednesday in Tiananmen Square.

But on Tuesday, Chinese authorities detained six activists descending part of the Great Wall with a 450-square-foot banner reading, “One World, One Dream, Free Tibet 2008.”

Read it all at:
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8QSCOR00&show_article=1