Issue Date: January 14, 2008
Pollution In China
Next month, China's State Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) will begin the country's first national survey of pollution sources.
Through this census, SEPA plans to identify sources of industrial, agricultural, and residential pollution throughout China. The survey will also tally the number of waste-treatment plants that are operating in the country.
Data collection will take two months, and the full report will be ready in about a year. SEPA expects to spend more than $100 million on the project. To encourage officials throughout China to provide accurate data, SEPA has promised that the survey will not be used as a performance assessment tool.
"I think this survey will be very important in enabling policy-making and for supporting the government's management of environmental controls," says Ma Jun, head of the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs, a Beijing-based group that has been collecting data on water pollution in China. However, the government does not plan to publicly release the survey when it is completed, Ma notes.
In a report on China's environment published last July, the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development said the government does tabulate some environmental data but it has no "single, nationally unified environmental information collection and transmission system." Creating one is difficult, OECD said, because China is so large and because officials throughout the country may not accurately report data.
SEPA says it has set up offices throughout China for the specific purpose of coordinating the survey.
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