Southwest watchdog exposes illegal reporting before launch

CHENGDU, SICHUAN, December 6 — The new Southwest Environmental Protection Supervision Centre has exposed illegal reporting activity even before its official launch today, reports the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA).

On November 6 the Luzhou Power Plant, Sichuan Province, leaked nearly 17 tons (15.2 tonnes) of diesel oil into the Yangtze River, China’s longest, after a diesel oil storage device broke during a debugging operation, said SEPA. But the power plant reported that only 0.38 tons of diesel oil had leaked into the Yangtze. It was thanks to the supervision of the new southwest centre, said SEPA, that the false report was discovered.

Gou Faquan, deputy general engineer of Chuannan Power Generating Company, and Cheng Zhongfei, deputy head in charge of boilers, have both since been sacked for lax supervision, said the Sichuan Environmental Protection Administration. The board of directors of the company was instructed to give the general manager, Shi Xun, a formal warning. The company was also fined RMB200,000 yuan (US$25,600)

The oil slick moved down the river to neighboring regions because the company’s underestimated the volume of oil involved and this hampered de-pollution activities, said the Sichuan administration.

The launch of the southwest centre demonstrated the government’s determination to reinforce regional environmental protection supervision, said SEPA deputy chief Zhang Lijun.

The centre will monitor southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality, Sichuan, Guizhou and Yunnan provinces and the Tibet Autonomous Region.

The area covers nearly 2.4 million square kilometers (593 million acres), accounting for about a quarter of the country’s total land area, and is home to around one-sixth of the country’s population.

Centre Director Ma Ning said at the opening ceremony that the centre had a difficult task ahead as the southwest region had more state-level nature reserves and borders than the eastern, southern, northwestern and northeastern parts of the country.

Southwest China has 49 state-level nature reserves.

Within the region 44% of the country’s hydropower resources originate from the upper reaches of major waterways such as the Yangtze and Pearl Rivers. It also has the country’s major grouping of alpine lakes.

In addition the area has a concentration of metallurgical, chemical, energy and mining industries.

In July this year the government agreed to set up five environmental protection supervision centres in the eastern, southern, northwestern, southwestern and northeastern regions.

The southwest centre is the second to begin operations following the opening of the northwest centre in Xi’an, capital of northwest Shaanxi Province, on October 25.

Nationwide the discharge of waste materials and environment-related paroxysmal incidents is high. Opening of the five centres was aimed at dealing with the problem, SEPA’s Zhang said. The centers will supervise local government implementation of state policies and regulations on environmental protection, how they handle major cases of environmental pollution and their emergency measures to respond to environment-related major paroxysmal incidents, he said.

About James Ockenden (300 Articles)
Writer, journalist and sustainability consultant with a passion for clean technology and public health. 25 years covering power and energy markets: former editor of Power Plant Technology, International Power Generation, Asian Electricity, Aircraft Economics, Energy Risk, Asia Risk, Benchmark; writer for South China Morning Post, Cathay Dragon's Silkroad, APlus, Veolia's "Planet", Hong Kong Tatler; founder of Blue Skies China. MSocSc in Corporate Environmental Governance, University of Hong Kong; BA & MA degree in Natural Sciences (major in Materials Science & Metallurgy), Cambridge University.
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