Jiangsu pledges to rejuvenate the waterway

The chemical industry contributes greatly to Jiangsu’s economy, but since 2016, authorities in the eastern province have closed 3,000 heavily polluting factories to protect the Yangtze River.

From January to October, 882 chemical factories and 1,421 factories that failed to meet environmental protection standards were closed, according to the Jiangsu Ecology and Environment Department.

The Yangtze runs for 400 kilometers through the province, providing 80 percent of the water used for drinking and industrial production.

Last year, Jiangsu’s GDP surpassed 9.25 trillion yuan ($1.38 trillion), with cities along the river contributing about 80 percent of the total, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

On May 2, less than a week after President Xi Jinping made a speech promoting the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt in which he reiterated the importance of environmental protection, the province’s top leaders sailed down the river to assess the layout of industrial clusters and protection measures.

In August, Jiangsu put forward a plan to close every industrial park that failed to meet environmental protection standards by 2020.

Authorities also announced that production of crude steel would be reduced and more than 2 million kilowatts of outdated coal-fired power generators would be shuttered.

In 2016, the province announced plans to reduce the number of chemical plants, reduce the use of coal and restore the Yangtze’s waters.

In 2017, it tackled 100 heavily polluted, malodorous rivers in urban areas, and closed or moved 10,372 livestock farms that polluted local waterways.

Luo Qun, deputy secretary of the Party working committee of Nanjing’s Jiangbei New Area, which is home to many industrial parks and chemical factories, said effective measures have been taken to tackle chemical pollution in the area.

In 2017, the new area’s GDP topped 200 billion yuan, and last year, the figure was 250 billion yuan.

“Environmental protection is one of our most important tasks,” Luo said. “We have reduced the area covered by industrial parks from 45 square kilometers to 20 and closed all the factories that didn’t meet environmental protection standards.

“We are actively guiding the transformation of chemical parks into new material parks. For example, BASF, a German company in the chemical park, has already made new material products.”

Luo added that 42 rivers have been treated and the neighboring environment has been restored. With the improvement of water quality, finless porpoises – aka the “smiling angels” of the Yangtze – have been seen more frequently in the section of the river that runs through Nanjing.

Li Wenqing, chief engineer of the Nanjing ecology and environment bureau, said environmental protection and the restoration of the Nanjing section of the river is a top priority.

“The local government has established 40 key tasks and 55 key programs to reduce production of waste and stabilize the quality of the water in the main stream. By next year, the proportion of bodies of water listed above Grade III should rise by 68.2 percent, while water graded below Grade V, the lowest level in China’s water quality system, should be eliminated.”

He said local people are encouraged to participate in, and monitor, the protection efforts.

Dongsha Industrial Park, located in Zhangjiagang, Suzhou city, just 4 km from the river, was shuttered in December 2017, reducing chemical oxygen demand by 1,190 metric tons, ammonia nitrogen by 27 tons, sulfur dioxide by 1,530 tons, and nitrogen oxide by 550 tons.

At the same time, hazardous waste was reduced by 2,028 tons and 150,000 tons of standard coal went unused, according to the provincial Ecology and Environment Department. (Chinadaily)


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