A recent brief report by Greenpeace, titled Swimming in Poison, analyzes the prevalence of hazardous chemicals in the Yangtze River and its fauna, showing how the river’s fish are riddled with a variety of poisons, and how the river is otherwise badly polluted.
The Yangtze is the longest river in China and one of the longest in the world. One third of China’s population lives near its banks and relies on it for fresh water, including the 20 million residents of Shanghai; its health affects the health of 400 million Chinese.
The river receives more waste than any other in China, from factories, heavy metal industries, fertilizers, pesticides and weed killing solutions.
The Greenpeace study found hazardous chemicals in nearly every sample of carp and catfish. According to the report, “Among the identified substances were [chemicals] used for water repellent coatings in products such as food wrappings, clothing, carpets and leather. Greenpeace also found … derivatives [that] are widely used in detergents, textile and leather finishers.”
“These man-made chemicals have been proven to be hazardous to living organisms. They can act as an endocrine disruptor and accumulate in the body for long periods of time,” the report states. The production of some of the more perfidious chemicals that were discovered has been reducing in other countries, but growing in China.
Many of the findings are not groundbreaking. A 2006 investigative report by China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection disclosed that there were 20,000 chemical plants in China at the time, with nearly half of them on the banks of Yangtze River.
Wu Lihong, an environmental activist nicknamed the “Taihu Guardian” has for many years studied the pollution in Taihu Lake, which is situated near the Yangtze River. He told The Epoch Times that according to his estimates, the number of chemical factories on the banks of the Yangtze may be even higher than official reports.
He gave an example that, by 2007, there were 2,800 chemical factories just in the city of Yixing in Jiangsu province, a city with 1.6 million inhabitants located on the bank of Taihu Lake. The local government later claimed they had closed down many of the factories, but according to Mr. Wu, only some very small chemical plants were closed while the major polluters continued to operate.
The Chinese regime adopts the “treatment after pollution” policy, Mr. Wu said, which means that the citizenry end up merely suffering in silence, unable to stop the pollution before it turns into a media incident. “Due to extreme pollution found in Taihu Lake, we started to drink water from Yangtze River instead. If Yangtze River water is so shockingly bad as stated in the report, the results could be very dreadful.”
Mr. Wu believes that pollution is hard to manage in China because the local governments all try to protect their own interests. Orders given by those higher up have little effect at the local level. The environment is now a sensitive political topic in mainland China: “Due to the upcoming United Nations Conference on the Environment in Mexico and the failure to reach agreement during the last meeting in Copenhagen, mainland media try to stay away from these sensitive topics.”
Mr. Wu believes that shutting down the unqualified factories is the key to solve the water pollution problem. “However, in trying to achieve political and economic success, the local government are working counter to the central government, in effect playing a game of cat and mouse. This is a very complex topic,” said Wu, adding that currently the pollution problem is only talked about, or discussed during meetings; no real action has been taken.
A transparent environmental impact assessment process with public involvement is crucial: “What kind of environmental threat does [a new plant] potentially create for the Yangtze River or Taihu Lake? What kind of impact do you have on the local environment? We need to see real data, not fake numbers, and the data must be publicly available.”
Just two decades ago there was little pollution, and the country had no need for such as the “Model Environmental Protection City” award. Today, with so much pollution, cities around the lake have suddenly all become a “Model Environmental Protection City”. He said, “In an attempt to present themselves in a favorable light, the government is doing public relations projects, with fraudulent numbers showing their success, they need to make up some lies to deceive the general public.” However, the report from Greenpeace International clearly points out that “In reality, (China) is in an environmental crisis.”
Read the original Chinese article.