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MEP and MLR announce the report on national general survey on soil contamination

Updated: Apr 28,2014 11:39 AM

MEP and Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR) announced the report on national general survey on soil contamination, an official with MEP told the media on April 17.

According to the State Council decision, MEP and MLR jointly launched the first national general survey on soil contamination between April 2005 and December 2013, according to this official. The targeted areasare China’s territorial land areas excluding Hong Kong SAR, Macao SAR, and Taiwan province, and survey site is available in all of the arable land as well as part of the forestland, grassland, undeveloped land, and land for construction. The de facto survey area is around 6.3 m km2. Applying the same approaches and standards, the survey helps get a basic understanding of the general conditions of soil environment across the country.

The survey found the general condition of the nation’s soil environment not optimistic. Some areas are suffering from bad soil pollution, the environmental quality of the arable land is worrying, and there are pressing environmental problems in industrial and mining deserted lands. Up to 16.1 percent of the total survey sites fail to attain soil environment quality standards, with 11.2 percent register minor pollution, 2.3 percent light pollution, 1.5 percent moderate pollution, and 1.1 percent serious pollution. From the perspectiveof land use pattern, 19.4 percent of the arable land survey sites, 10.0 percent of the forestland survey sites, and 10.4 percent of the grassland survey sites fail to attain soil environment quality standards. From the perspective of pollution type, the main pollution sources are inorganic pollutants, seconded by organic pollutants. Compound soil pollution takes up a small proportion. Among those non-attainment sites, 82.8 percent are caused by inorganic pollutants. From the perspective of non-attainment inorganic pollutant, it iscadmium in 7.0 percent of the survey sites, mercury in 1.6 percent of those sites, arsenic in 2.7 percent of those sites, copper in 2.1 percent of those sites, lead in 1.5 percent of those sites, chromium in 1.1 percent of those sites, zinc in 0.9 percent of those sites, and nickel in 4.8 percent of those sites. From the perspective of non-attainment organic pollutant, it is C6H6Cl6 in 0.5 percent of those sites, DDT in 1.9 percent of those sites, and PAHs in 1.4 percent of those sites.

Soil environment quality is affected by multiple factors and China’s soil contamination is a cumulative process during the economic and social development over a long period of time. Human activities including industrial, mining, and agricultural activities as well as high natural background value are the main causes of soil contamination or non-attainment, according to the source.

The CPC Central Committee and the State Council have highly valued soil conservation and remediation, and central leaders have made important instructions on many occasions, said the official. Local areas and State departments also have engaged in practical explorations in this respect. However, with extensive economic development model, irrational industrial structure and layout, and enormous total pollutant load for a long time, some areas in China suffer from serious soil contamination, posing a severe threat to the safe farm produce and public health. Facing the grave situations, the State is taking or about to take the following measures to step up soil conservation and remediation, declaring war on soil contamination.

a. Developing an action plan against soil contamination. As arranged by the State Council, MEP is working with relevant line ministries to map out an action plan against soil contamination as soon as possible. The overarching train of thought is to, with safeguarding safe farm produce and sound living environment as the starting point, the conservation and improvement of soil environment quality as the core, reform and innovation as the driving force, and legal building as the cornerstone, insist on pollution control at the source, exercise graded management and classification management, increase the S&T elements, give play to the market, and encourage public participation.

b. Accelerating the legislation process for soil environmental protection. The Standing Committee of the 12th NPC already put soil environmental protection law on Category-Alegislation agenda. MEP and relevant line ministries set up a leading team, working team, and expert panel for the drafting of this law. And a draft law has been enacted over two years’work.

c. Conducting a detailed survey on soil contamination. Building on the general survey, MEP will work with Ministry of Finance, MLR, Ministry of Agriculture, and National Health and Family Planning Commission to organize a detailed survey, in order to get a clear understanding of the soil environmentconditions. Apreliminary master plan of implementation has been formulated.

d. Carrying out the soil remediation projects. The State will carry out pilot projects and model projects on remediation of contaminated soils, establish a technological system for soil remediation step by step, and promote it on a planned and phased basis.

e. Strengthening soil environment regulation. The State will strengthen its regulatory role and set up a life-long accountability mechanism for soil contamination; tighten the supervision and inspection on the performances of heavy metal polluters on processing of wastewater, gas, and residues; strictly control the misuse and abuse of agricultural inputs during the agricultural production activities; andset standards for the collection, storage, transfer, transportation, and processing of hazardous wastes, in order to prevent new contamination.

(This English version is for your reference only. In case any discrepancy exists between the Chinese and English context, the Chinese version shall prevail.)