Environmental Protection Drive Eyes Reducing Heavy Metal Pollution

April 3rd, 2012 by Steve

BEIJING, March 20 (Xinhua) — Minister of Environmental Protection Zhou Shengxian has underlined heavy metal pollution as a key issue in the country’s pollution prevention efforts, vowing strengthened supervision on the industry.

In a special campaign last year, law enforcement workers checked more than 1 million companies and spotted some 10,000 environment-related issues. Among these cases, many occurred in the country’s lead battery industry.

In September last year, the president of a battery company in eastern Zhejiang province was sentenced to 15 months in prison after untreated industrial emissions from his plant poisoned 168 villagers, who were found to have elevated levels of lead in their blood.

Exposure to high levels of lead can damage the digestive, nervous, and reproductive systems, health expertssay.

“With the experiences from dealing with the lead battery industry, local environmental protection departmentsmust conduct all-round checks on key heavy metal companies, especially concerning their mining and smelting processes,” Zhou said Tuesday at a joint meeting held by nine government departments including the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Justice

According to Zhou, provincial-level environmental protection departments should publicize a list that includes the names of all the companies in the fields of heavy nonferrous metal mining, smelting, leather tanning and galvanization under their jurisdiction by the end of June for public scrutiny, along with their records of environment-related violations and rectification progress.

Local departments were also told to conduct strengthened supervision on the production, use and disposal of dangerous and harmful waste, with a special focus on sewage disposal factories.

Admitting that the country’s overall environmental situation is still deteriorating, Zhou called upon companies and government departments to explore more efficient and sustainable ways to protect the environment and crack down on heavy metal pollution.

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