Archive | Water Pollution

Port of Long Beach California and the Environmental Impact of Ports

Port of Long Beach, California

Photographer Kevin Dooley took this photograph at the port in Long Beach, California. As he comments, the port is reportedly making strides to improve it’s environmental impact:

“I’ve been doing research on the environmental and social impacts of ports, and let me tell you, ports can be dirty places! The port facility itself can be energy intensive and emit pollutants, and then if you add all the ships and trucks and rail… whoa. Making ports more sustainable is an important goal for us.”

“The Port of Long Beach, shown above, is one port that is making great strides. One simple idea that cuts down pollutants and green house gases is to require ships and trucks to “plug in” for their electricity, so they’re not idling their own vehicles while waiting. “

This photograph is from Kevin Dooley who generously shared it via Flickr. It is used on EcoWorld under the Creative Commons license.

Posted in Electricity, Shipping, Water Pollution2 Comments

Diesel Leak in China's Yellow River Threatens Drinking Water

BEIJING, Jan. 5 (UPI) — Diesel fuel leaking from a broken oil pipeline into a Yellow River tributary in China has spread, threatening drinking water sources, officials said Tuesday.

The fuel leak has spread downstream into Shanxi and Henan provinces, contaminating it and potentially affecting the drinking water supply of many local residents, the China Daily reported.

Despite earlier efforts to prevent the spread, the leak had reached the Sanmenxia reservoir on the Yellow River in Henan province, the report said. Authorities have stopped generating electricity from the reservoir and dammed up the river to prevent further pollution.

Environmental Protection Vice Minister China Zhang Lijun has ordered all-out efforts to stop the leak from spreading to the Xiaolangdi reservoir, about 100 miles downstream, which provides drinking water to the heavily populated cities of Kaigeng and Zhengzhou in Henan province, the report said.

Nearly 40,000 gallons of diesel reportedly leaked into the Wei River in Shaanxi province last week after a construction accident ruptured a pipeline, which transports fuel from the China’s northwest to its central regions. The pipeline was subsequently shut down.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in Drinking Water, Electricity, Water Pollution0 Comments

Alabama Foundry Guilty on Pollution Counts

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Dec. 19 (UPI) — An Alabama cast iron manufacturer has pleaded guilty to nine felony counts of knowingly violating the Clean Water Act, U.S. officials say.

McWane Inc., one of the largest foundries in the country, pleaded guilty Friday in federal district court in Birmingham, Ala., for environmental crimes that occurred at its Birmingham, Ala., facility, McWane Cast Iron Pipe Company, Justice Department officials said.

James Delk, the former general manager and vice president of the Birmingham plant, pleaded guilty to eight counts of negligently violating the Clean Water Act. Additionally, former plant manager Michael Devine pleaded guilty to five counts of negligently violating the Clean Water Act.

Under the plea agreement, McWane was sentenced to pay a $4 million criminal fine and serve a five-year term of probation.

“This is the fifth time that the McWane corporation, a McWane facility, or a company manager has been sentenced for committing environmental crimes,” Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, said in a statement. “McWane’s multiple violations of the nation’s environmental laws is inexcusable, and McWane needs to take immediate steps to ensure that it fully complies with the law.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Office, On-Site Wastewater Treatment, Wastewater & Runoff, Water Pollution0 Comments

Tap Water Legal but May Be Unhealthy

NEW YORK, Dec. 17 (UPI) — Tap water may be legally safe but in reality could pose serious health risks because the 35-year-old federal law regulating it is out of date, scientists say.

Ninety-one contaminants are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated more than 60,000 chemicals are used within the United States, some of which could be considered dangerous.

Among those thousands of extra chemicals scrutinized by scientists, hundreds have been associated with a risk of cancer and other diseases at small concentrations in drinking water, The New York Times reported in its analysis of U.S. drinking water test data.

Still, not one chemical has been added to the list of those regulated by law since 2000, its report said.

More than 62 million Americans have been exposed since 2004 to drinking water that did not meet at least one commonly used government health guideline, the report said.

The Times based its analysis on more than 19 million drinking-water test results from the District of Columbia and the 45 states that made data available.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Chemicals, Drinking Water, Other, Water Pollution0 Comments

West Virginia Power Giant Readies to Push Carbon Emissions Deep Underground

NEW HAVEN, W.Va., Sept. 22 (UPI) — An experiment to retrofit a coal-fired West Virginia power plant to “sequester” its carbon dioxide emissions is drawing worldwide interest, observers say.

American Electric Power, the largest electricity producer in the United States with a coal-fired grid of power stations stretching across 11 states, was preparing Tuesday to start an experiment at its gargantuan Mountaineer power station in New Haven, W.Va., to remove, or sequester, carbon dioxide from its smokestacks and pump the gas deep underground, The New York Times reported.

The experiment has attracted visitors from as far as China and India, where local officials are also struggling with cutting down on greenhouse gases, as well as both supporters and critics of such “clean coal” technologies, the newspaper said.

Coal industry supporters say the sequestration retrofitting technology could prove more feasible than building brand new coal-fired plants, which supply half of the United States’ electricity needs. Some industry observers, however, say the retrofits rob the plants of up to 30 percent of their generating capacity, and could be more expensive than nuclear or solar power.

The Times said environmentalists who generally oppose coal-fired plants contend pumping carbon dioxide into underground chambers could lead to water pollution.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Coal, Electricity, Energy & Fuels, Other, Science, Space, & Technology, Solar, Water Pollution0 Comments

U.S. Water Polluters Rarely Punished

WASHINGTON, Sept. 13 (UPI) — Polluters are admitting dumping more toxic substances into U.S. drinking water supplies but they are rarely punished by regulators, records indicate.

Even though chemical factories, manufacturing plants and other workplaces have self-reported more than 500,000 instances of violating the Clean Water Act in the last five years, state agencies and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have often failed to act, The New York Times reported Sunday.

Regulators admitted to the newspaper that enforcement actions are unacceptably rare. New EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said state regulators struggle with insufficient resources and vowed to make clean tap water her agency’s top priority.

The Times, after obtaining hundreds of thousands of water pollution records through the Freedom of Information Act, found that an estimated one in 10 Americans have been exposed to drinking water that holds hazardous chemicals or that doesn’t meet safety standards in other ways.

Researchers told the newspaper that because most polluted water has no scent or taste, people don’t realize it they’ve been exposed until they contract cancer or other illnesses.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Chemicals, Drinking Water, Other, Toxic Substances, Water Pollution0 Comments

AbTech Sucking Up Pollution

Oil drips to the ground at the neighborhood filling station-from cars and trucks passing through and from the rows of storage tanks. The spill sits on the cement innocently enough, but takes on a life of its own when rain pummels to the ground. With the force of rain, the oil snakes its way towards the storm drain and slithers towards the coast. There it joins the other pollutants that arrive by leaching into rivers flowing into the ocean. Water pollution is a huge issue: In fact, the annual global petroleum pollution alone, is comparable to the Exxon Valdez spilling 5 times over!

Water pollution comes in many forms including industrial or sewage pollution. But nonpoint source pollution (NPS)-pollution from a variety of sources-is much harder to track. In the U.S, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains that “NPS pollution is caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground. As the runoff moves, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, finally depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters, and even our underground sources of drinking water.”

Vacationers who have come to find their favorite surfing spot inaccessible because of unhealthy toxicity levels in the water leave disappointed, while wells supplying water to cities are often closed due to chemical leaks into the groundwater. ABtech Industries, Inc, a technology firm focusing on solving the issue of water pollutants, has figured out a solution by developing products that absorb the many harmful pollutants that find their way to our water supplies and beaches. AbTech explains that their products are “based on polymer technologies capable of removing hydrocarbons, bacterial pathogens, sediment and other foreign elements from still (ponds, lakes and marinas) or flowing water (curbside drains, pipe outflows, rivers and oceans).”

AbTech’s Smart Sponge®, for example, fully encapsulates oil, soaking it up so effectively that it won’t leak out. A surprising fact is that the absorbed oils and pollutants don’t stay liquid once absorbed. The Sponge transforms the pollutants into a solid form which make the recycling process much simpler. The technology is ideal for use in Marinas, where boaters would discharge clean water from bilge pumps with the use of the sponge and AbTech is proud to say that the “proprietary polymer technology unique in its ability to effectively remove, absorb and retain hydrocarbons from flowing or pooled water and is the only company to combine an anti- microbial agent in a polymer-based filter to destroy bacteria at the street level.” The Smart Sponge can simply be placed at storm drain entrances to filter out the harmful bacteria and oils before they even get a chance to surprise unsuspecting beachgoers.

AbTech goes on explaining that their lab tests prove that the Smart Sponge is able to absorb up to 5 times its own weight, and will remove oil from water regardless of the amount. This means that even the thin sheen of oils floating on top of water can be absorbed without a problem.

Costing almost $1000 a piece, a Smart Sponge is a worthy investment for cleaner and healthier water. A sponge is more appealing than the complicated ultraviolet or chlorine treatments (also expensive options) and is even reusable (up to a point).

It isn’t a surprise that AbTech was named the winner of the water management category at the 2008 GoingGreen event. Even the EPA lists the Smart Sponge Technology as a Best Management Practice and it would be government money put to good use.

Time to suck up the oil that’s spit into our waters.

Posted in Cars, Drinking Water, Other, Recycling, Science, Space, & Technology, Water Pollution1 Comment

Who Watches the Watchers?

STUDIES SHOW: HOW RESEARCHERS CAN MANIPULATE STATISTICS AND HOW THE MEDIA GOBBLES IT UP UNCRITICALLY
Heron
The magnificant Great Blue Heron
Could measured use of DDT still have saved
the Heron, but also millions of human lives?

Editor’s Note: Any issue where science and public policy collides can fall prey to some combination of political opportunism and scientific corruption. Even when motives are pure, there is still potential for well intentioned researchers to go down paths that are later revealed to be completely off the track. When powerful vested interests and deeply rooted emotions intersect, the truth is only one card in the deck, hard to find, and relatively easy to stack.

The following report by veteran EcoWorld science correspondant Edward Wheeler identifies the “seven deadly sins” of epidemiological studies, and how many of these flawed studies pass from the laboratory press release into the uncritical hands of journalists and before you know it, are enshrined in new legislation or regulations. But far too often these studies are not nearly as conclusive as they are made to appear, and the consequent actions we take are not rational.

The point of all this goes beyond just epidemiology, to the relationship between scientific inquiry, media reporting, popular sentiment and public policy. Scientists who indulge in dramatic proclamations, becoming rich and famous in the process, need ongoing critical review. Today one has to ask: Is scientific peer review a way to challenge conventional wisdom and expose conclusions that aren’t clearly indicated by the underlying data, or has peer review become precisely the opposite – a way to exclude contrarian notions? Have certain scientifically developed hypotheses prematurely assumed the mantle of truth beyond debate?

Who will watch the watchers, when the watchers are our scientists, whose currency of reason is so arcane, so specialized and diverse, that nobody, not even among the scientists themselves, has sufficient credentials to question the conventional wisdom? The first step is to remember the fallibility of studies, to restore the innate and vital skepticism of journalists, and to remind the public that debate is the crucible of truth. To that end, read on. – Ed “Redwood” Ring

Studies Show – How researchers can manipulate statistics and how the media gobbles it all up uncritically.
by Edward Wheeler, April 29, 2008
California Coast with Cliffs
California’s magnificant Central Coast,
home to the elusive North American Condor.
Saving this precious species is one of
environmentalism’s finest achievements.

We should all be scared, VERY scared. It seems as if every day a new “study” is reported somewhere in the national media showing a statistical association between diet, lifestyle, or environmental chemicals and some disease or disorder.

Do you eat the “wrong” foods such as red meat, hot dogs, french fries, coffee, alcohol, grilled meats, too much fat, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, or NOT eat enough vegetables?

Are you overweight, and don’t exercise enough? Do you use deodorants, mouthwash, nail polish, electric razors or blankets, cell phones? Do you live near power lines, use birth control pills or take hormone treatments, have some radon in your basement, breathe polluted air or second hand smoke?

Do you worry and fret about all these things after reading the terrifying results of some new study? Then for sure you will surely die from some form of cancer or heart disease sometime next week, probably from the stress and loss of sleep of worrying so much!

All these studies are called epidemiological studies, which seek to find statistical correlations, mostly quite subtle, between diet, lifestyle, or environmental factors and disease. Real sciences, like chemistry and physics, seek to find cause and effect. Epidemiological studies supply only statistical links between this or that risk factor and some disease. Such studies almost never prove cause and effect, and they are subject to researcher bias and political agendas, poor design, confounding variables, bad data gathering and more. Unfortunately, most reporters who write articles on these studies are scientifically ignorant and simply parrot whatever the study authors say.

Author Mark Twain popularized the saying, “there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics”. An even better quote is from the renowned epidemiologist Alvan Feinstein of Yale University who quoted that, “statistics are like a bikini bathing suit: what is revealed is interesting, but what is concealed is crucial.” Let’s look at the history of this field of study.

Epidemiology: “The study of the distribution of diseases in populations and of factors that influence the occurrence of disease.” Classical epidemiology was fathered by an Italian physician named Ramazzini. Around 1700, he started looking into the possibility that various diseases in patients might be connected to their occupations. For example, miners and chemical workers might have some lung disease because they are exposed to dust, various chemicals, or toxic metals over the course of their careers. Years later a London surgeon, Percivall Pott, noted that virtually everyone he treated for cancer of the scrotum was a chimney sweep. Hummm, he must have thought to himself. It’s a non-communicable disease, so I wonder if all that soot and coal tar they breathe and get all over them every day might be the cause. This was a monumental proof of concept!

Classical epidemiology is like police work. If there is an outbreak of some kind of stomach ailment in a number of people in a city who all seek medical treatment (they were up all night throwing up and sitting on the pot, maybe some even died), public health investigators would seek to determine what history all these sick people might have in common. If it turns out 95% of them ate at Joe’s diner within the last few days, odds are Joe was serving E. coli burgers or maybe Salmonella oysters. A simple test would confirm it.

A recent example is the incidence of a disease identified in 1976, later named “legionnaire’s” disease, which is a form of pneumonia unknown before then. Hundreds of men were affected, and 32 died. It was found that all of them had attended an American Legion convention in Philadelphia. Voila, they identified a bacterium living in the ventilation system of the hotel where the convention took place. That is classical epidemiology. Now let’s discuss a branch of epidemiology that uses “clinical trials” to try to find the facts about disease, cause, and prevention.

Probably the first “study” we now might loosely call a clinical trial occurred in 1753. Scurvy was a common illness among sailors at the time. James Lind, a surgeon in the British Royal Navy, wondered if perhaps it had something to do with the fact that sailors on long voyages ate almost no fresh fruits and vegetables. We now know that scurvy is caused by a deficiency of vitamin C, but at the time the necessity of vitamins to our health was unknown. He tested his hypothesis by dividing a number of scurvy sailors into two groups, one of which was given fresh fruits (we now know to contain vitamin C) to eat, while the other group continued eating hardtack and rum. ALL the sailors sucking limes got over their illness, while ALL the sailors in the group that we now would call the no veggie “control” group still had scurvy. Eureka! From then on British sailors sucked on limes and stayed healthy, while those poor French and Spanish sailors stayed sick and lost lots of sea battles to the British.

Another classic example of an early clinical trial was conducted by Walter Reed, a U.S. army medical officer stationed in Cuba in the 1890s. Yellow fever was rampant at the time, and he wondered why it was only prevalent in tropical climates. His trial could never be done today for ethical reasons. He suspected mosquitoes might somehow be spreading the disease through their bites. He recruited a small number of healthy volunteers, half of whom deliberately were bitten by mosquitoes, while the other half were not bitten. Most of the poor guys with the bites came down with yellow fever, and one of them died! None of the bite free guys got the fever. That was definitive, whereas today various studies and trials are rarely so (with one famous exception that I discussed in my Ecoworld article entitled “Chemophobia”).

The following is a perfect example of how an epidemiological study should be conducted in order to give definitive results, NO question about the results, even if it wasn’t planned that way and would be considered unethical and way too expensive to conduct if it were. AND, this was a really BIG study.

Back in the 1960s, this study enrolled tens of millions of volunteers (the test group) who volunteered to inhale huge amounts of suspected carcinogens every day of their lives for at least 20 years, AT THEIR OWN EXPENSE! The same number of people who did not inhale the suspected carcinogens (the control group) was compared with the test group after 20-30 years to determine the rates of various cancers in the two groups. Absolutely unequivocal results showed that people in the test group had an increased incidence of various cancers and heart disease over the control group, and the most striking result was that people in the test group were about 15 times more likely to get lung cancer than people in the control group!

Thus we now know for sure that smoking can cause lung cancer and various other health problems. Now THAT was a really good epidemiological study! It is, however, not even conceivable to design and carry out such a clinical trial for ethical reasons: and in addition, the time and expense would be prohibitive. So let’s look at how those “study” authors do things today. The reader may have already figured out that I perceive most of the “studies” to be mostly what is often called “junk science.” I do not, however, believe real science is involved at all in most statistical studies, so I call them “bad (pretend) science” or BS for short. I won’t go into the statistical details and methods, but I will show many wonderful examples of famous BS. You can get the underlying methods by reading Steven Milloy’s “Science Without Sense” and “Junk Science Judo.”

Here are the “seven deadly sins” of epidemiology (epiBS from now on) as practiced today:

1) Have a political, health, or moral agenda and design (rig) your study in order to get the results you want. This applies to all sides of the political spectrum and official government agencies. Real scientific method is: put forth a hypothesis, then gather data to determine whether your hypothesis is correct or not. EpiBS method is: Have a mandated or acceptable conclusion in mind, then go select only the data that appear to support your already reached conclusion (see famous example below).

2) Assume that a statistical correlation that you found in your latest study between some disease or disorder and some exposure to some perceived risk factor is proof of a cause and effect relationship. EVEN if there is no apparent biological reason to think so, you can still think of some improbable rationalization for your results!

3) Data dredging: Don’t bother with any hypothesis prior to gathering your data, just ask a large group of people lots of questions about lifestyle, diet, drinking habits, ect., over a period of time. Feed the data into your computer statistics program and see if something correlates to something, who knows what you might find?

4) Don’t bother to verify any data you gather through questionnaires. Just assume nobody ever mis-remembers or lies about their lifestyle, diet, shoe size, or anything else you might have thought to ask about. Ask a subject how much alcohol they drink per day, and they understate the amount by 3 or 4 times at least. It’s like a wife asking her husband how much money he lost playing the slots at the casino.

5) Design studies that are fatally flawed from the beginning, but because you don’t know anything about the biochemistry involved (after all, you are either a medical guy or a statistician), you have no clue why you got the associations you did, but you believe it and publish it anyway.

6) If your study doesn’t find any association between, say, radon exposure and lung cancer, perform a meta-analysis combining the weak, statistically insignificant results of numerous studies by other researchers with your own, and you don’t even have to do a study of your own at all. It doesn’t matter how good or bad or even how similar in their design all those studies were (the old apples and oranges comparisons), combining them just might give a statistically significant correlation.

7) ALWAYS call the news media immediately after finding an association between, say, exposure to some hot issue chemical and some disease state. The reporters know absolutely nothing about how these studies are done and will uncritically report whatever you say. Your study will make big headlines tomorrow, and you will be quoted as saying, “the results are important, but more research is needed”. That translates into, “I need more grant money to continue to do BS.”

The most egregious example I will give of epiBS combines the deadly sins #1 and #6, and its results have had enormous implications on nanny state public policy. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) original mission was to establish rules and regulations meant to protect the environment, such as from air and water pollution. However, over the years mission creep occurred, and they now exist to protect public health. This gives them vastly more power to institute regulations that the agency was never originally intended to do.

In 1993, the EPA conducted a now infamous study that kicked off the anti-smoking crusade that continues today. At the time, more than 30 epidemiological studies from around the world had been conducted to see if the spouses of smokers were more likely to get lung cancer than spouses of non-smokers. None of them were definitive, perhaps showing a very weak correlation. Some of those studies actually suggested (also weakly) that exposure to second hand smoke, or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) might actually protect the spouse against getting lung cancer. This is a plausible biological process called “hormesis”, i.e., very low levels of exposure to a toxin can protect a person against high levels of exposure later.

The EPA has even admitted that the average annual exposure to ETS particles for a non-smoker is less than actively smoking one cigarette. Anyway, the EPA ignored those studies and selected only 11 studies to combine in a meta-analysis that they hoped would establish a statistically significant correlation between ETS and lung cancer in spouses of smokers. They also chose not to include in their meta-analysis any of some 30 available studies that were designed to determine if ETS in the workplace, as opposed to spouses of smokers, could be responsible for an increased risk of lung cancer in non-smokers so exposed. A large majority of those workplace studies found no statistically significant association between workplace ETS exposure and lung cancer risk. Is that why they did not include any of those studies in their meta-analysis?

The meta-analysis used by the EPA to analyse the effects of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS, or 2nd hand smoke) committed two of the cardinal sins of epidemiology. First, they selected only those studies that might show that ETS causes lung cancer. Thus they designed it to be a one-tailed test. That means you assume a priori that the test substance can only be bad, so you don’t include any data that might show the opposite of what you expect (or want) to see. Including all studies in their meta-analysis, even those that may indicate that ETS could possibly be beneficial, would make it a statistically acceptable two-tailed test.

The second cardinal sin of epidemiology they performed is that they used a confidence interval (CI) of 90%, instead of the gold standard 95%, in order to get a statistically significant result. What does that mean, a statistics-ignorant person might ask? At a 95% CI, your statistically significant results have a 1 in 20 probability of being due to pure chance (1/20 means p=.05 in stat language). All good epidemiological studies use the 0.05 CI. The EPA chose to use a CI of 0.1 (one in 10 chance of your results being false instead of a 1 in 20 chance) because they knew beforehand that their results would not be significant otherwise. In other words, they rigged the “study” to get the result they wanted, epiBS in its most flagrant form. They knew that smoking is bad for the health of smokers, but they couldn’t regulate smoking unless they could claim ETS could cause disease in innocent bystanders. This is perverting science because they believe, that for a worthy cause, the end justifies the means.

What, you still think ETS causes lung cancer in non-smokers? The EPA epiBS meta-analysis study was done in 1993. A study sponsored by the World Health Organization in 1998, which covered seven countries over seven years, showed no increase in cancer risk for spouses and co-workers of smokers. It was, however, another meta-analysis. I don’t like meta-analyses in general, even when there may be no political agenda involved as in the EPA study. So has there been one huge study done right, no meta-analysis BS? YES!

In 2003, a study published in the British Journal of Medicine found no relationship between exposure to passive smoke and mortality. It was a HUGE, very believable study. It spanned 39 years and included over 35,000 Californians. So why is such a really good study ignored in the media and the epiBS community? POLITICAL CORRECTNESS?

Disclaimer: I DON’T SMOKE, AND I AM VERY ANNOYED BY ETS, so don’t accuse me of loving tobacco companies. I agree with laws banning smoking in public buildings, transportation, and enclosed areas where one must go to do business.

About the Author: Dr. Wheeler earned a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 1970. As a research scientist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Berkeley, he did pioneering research on how one’s nutritional status and cancer are interrelated, and how our immune systems handle food bourn carcinogens. He published 25 research papers in peer reviewed scientific journals and gave numerous talks (and listened to many, many more) at various scientific meetings. He left the USDA to work for Nabisco in New Jersey as head of the food science research unit. Now retired, he writes brilliant articles for “ecoworld” pro bono. He is the resident contrarian for ecoworld.com.

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Posted in Buildings, Carcinogens, Careers, Causes, Chemicals, Coal, Effects Of Air Pollution, History, Journalists, Other, Policy, Law, & Government, Smoking, Transportation, Water Pollution0 Comments

China's Permit-Based Emissions Trading to Cut Down on Major Pollutants

China is ready to adopt a nationwide permit-based pollutant emission trading scheme as a key part of its drive to increase energy efficiency and reduce pollution, an official with the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said at an industry conference on Thursday March 6th.
“China has attained the necessary conditions for setting up a trading exchange for pollutant discharge permits,” said Mu Huaipeng, director of the central bank’s financial market department.

The country, which aims to cut emissions of major pollutants by 10 percent during the 2006-2010 period, initiated a pilot sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions trading trial program in 2002. The program allows companies in the provinces of Shandong, Shanxi, Jiangsu and Henan, as well as the cities of Shanghai, Tianjin and Liuzhou, to exchange emission credits with the China Huaneng Group, the country’s largest power producer.

Jiangsu’s provincial government announced in November last year that a full buy-and-sell water pollution emissions trading system would come into effect at the beginning of this year. Some 266 enterprises that discharge pollutants into Lake Tai, which is notorious for serious pollution problems, must buy permits from other firms if they exceed their emission quotas. Initial pollution permit prices are set at RMB 10.5 ($1.48) per kilogram of chemical oxygen demand (COD), a measurement of water pollution, for chemical firms; RMB 5.2 ($0.73) for printing and dyeing mills; and RMB 1.8 ($0.25) for paper mills.

Despite the lengthy implementation of the trial programs, the country has stalled the launch of a national trading system. Industry insiders say that is due to complications that arose regarding permit allocation.

“There is a lot of disagreement over how emission permits should be allocated between different industries, and whether the industrial output values of various sectors should be taken into consideration,” said an official with Guohua Electric Power, a power subsidiary under China’s major coal producer Shenhua Group. “But, I believe such a domestic trading system will be implemented very soon,” the official, who wished to remain anonymous, said.

The pollution permit trading system is one of a series of moves initiated by the Chinese government aimed at improving
environmental protection measures.

According to rules drawn up last year by the State Environment Protection Bureau, PBOC and the China Banking Regulatory Commission, financial institutions are forbidden from extending credit to any newly-constructed project that has not gone through proper environmental assessments, and will be penalized if credit is not withheld from enterprises that have exceeded emission quotas or failed to apply for necessary emissions permits.

This article was originally published by Interfax-China, and is republished with permission. Interfax-China’s team of in-country analysts track China’s industries and markets, providing comprehensive daily coverage of China’s energy sector. Learn how more about these markets and the opportunities they offer your business. Learn about energy in China through our China Energy Weekly and focused energy reports carbon trading, clean & renewable energy, CTL, oil & gas, and power generation. Free Trial – Contact Andrew Billard; andrew@interfax.cn or by phone at 86-10-8532-5021 (Beijing, China).

Posted in Business & Economics, Coal, Energy, Energy Efficiency, Other, People, Water Pollution0 Comments

Endangered Oceans

We have just published a feature-length report by Daniela Muhawi on the oceans of the world entitled “Our Endangered Oceans.” It is our contention that global warming alarm and the war on CO2 emissions has shoved into the background urgent environmental challenges that require action right now – tropical deforestation, species extinction, aquifer depletion, desertification, genuine air pollution, water pollution. But joining these global environmental challenges at the top of the list are the imminent threats to ocean species and ecosystems.

One of the most compelling reasons to report on the oceans is because it is here that sweeping changes are happening now, not in 50-100 years. The final destruction of the major ocean reef habitats as well as the collapse of major fish populations is well underway. As of 2007, both may soon be destroyed beyond repair, and with every month of delay on the part of the international environmental community the chances dim for our fisheries and reefs.

The encouraging news is this doesn’t have to happen. Where coral reefs have been protected from destructive fishing practices, they have often began to show signs of revitalization within a few years. If overfishing were stopped with some strong international agreements, soon many fisheries would again begin to yield sustainable harvests larger than today’s unsustainable harvests.

With 70% of the earth’s surface consisting of ocean, the myriad of ways they nourish us and nurture vast ecosystems defy easy summaries. Even deforestation is a problem in coastal waters, where the mangrove forests are being cut down. Tsunamis and cyclones can rampage far further inland when mangrove forests are destroyed, as they frequently are to make room for aquaculture. Intact coral reefs also act as effective storm barriers. But the coral reefs are failing – as much from overfishing as from global warming.

CO2 in the air becomes carbonic acid as it is absorbed by the ocean, reportedly increasing the acidity of the world’s oceans to the highest levels seen in hundreds of thousands of years. Increasing seawater acidity eventually becomes toxic to many reefs and other ocean species. This alarming data could well be the most compelling reason of all to be concerned about rising levels of atmospheric CO2.

Posted in Air Pollution, Fish, Other, Water Pollution3 Comments

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