2008 China Environment Status Bulletin Released
The 2008 China Environment Status Bulletin was released on World Environment Day by the Ministry of Environment Protection of China.
According to the bulletin, China made remarkable progresses in 2008 in reducing pollutants and other indicators for environmental quality have been improved significantly. The sewage treatment capacity of Chinese cities was increased by 11.49 million tons per day and the capacity of active bunker coal desulfurization machines by 97.12 million kilowatt. Many small-scale coal steam-electric plants were shut down, a reduction equivalent to 16.69 million kilowatts, which resulted in a 4.42% reduction in chemical oxygen demand and a 5.95% decrease in carbon dioxide output. The average concentration of permanganate index in surface water was 5.6 milligram per liter, meeting the national criteria of Category III water for the first time after dropping by 12.3% compared with 2007; and the average concentration of sulfur dioxide in the air was 0.048 milligram/m3, which is 7.7 % lower than that of the previous year and meets the national criteria for Level II air. The air quality of Chinese cities was generally good; among the 519 observed cities, 21 met the national criteria for Level I air, 378 for Level II, 113 for Level III, and 7 for inferior Level III. About 71.6% of the cities at and above municipal level and 85.6% of the cities at county level met the national criteria for air quality. The radiation levels in China were also generally acceptable. The acoustic environment of 71.9% of Chinese cities was acceptable or fairly good, and that of 65.3% of road traffic in cities was acceptable. The coastal waters were determined to be slightly polluted, while among the four largest seas around China, the water of Huanghai Sea and Nanhai Sea was good, while that of Bohai Sea was of average quality, and that of Donghai Sea was rather unsatisfactory. Remarkable progress was also made in ecological construction; by the end of 2008, 2538 natural reserves of different categories and different levels were set up all over China, covering an area of 1.49 million km2, among which there are 303 national nature reserves totaling 91.20 million ha.
Meanwhile, the bulletin reveals that, though China has accomplished great achievements in the reduction of pollutant release, the construction of infrastructures for environment protection, the reduction of pollution in key drainage areas, the promotion of environmental protection, and the improvement of economic policies aimed at protecting the environment, still pose serious challenges. In particular, the pollution of surface water is still serious. The water quality of the Yangtze, Yellow, Pearl, Songhua, Huai, and Liao Rivers remained at the same level as 2007; among them, the pollution level of the Pearl and Yangtze Rivers is generally acceptable, that of Songhua River is slightly polluted, that of Yellow, Huai, and Liao Rivers is polluted, and that of Hai River is heavily polluted. In a broader survery taken at 409 sections of 200 rivers, 55% of the water pollution levels were fell in Categories I to III (most acceptable), 24.2% in Category IV and V, and 20.8% at the lowest levels of Category V. In a survey on the nutritive composition of 26 lakes and reservoirs, 46.2%were said to have abundant nutritive capacities. In addition, the bulletin indicates that the environmental problems in the countryside are quite prominent, due to the constant aggravation of domestic pollution, the increased level of pollution in agrarian regions, the intensification of industrial and mining pollution, the threat of drinking water safety, and the spread of pollution from cities to the countryside.