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Problem with soil drawing legislators’ attention

Cao Yin/Zheng Jinran
Updated: Mar 11,2016 7:46 AM     China Daily

A proposal relating to environmental protection and focusing on soil has been brewing at China’s top legislature and is expected to be released to the public soon, an official of the NPC said on March 10.

Unlike air and water pollution, there is no law against soil pollution, let alone comprehensive and practical legal specifications, Yuan Si, deputy director of the Environmental Protection and Resources Conservation Committee of the National People’s Congress, said at a news conference about legislation.

Soil-related problems are serious in some regions across the nation, and the origins are complex compared with those of air or water pollution, Yuan said, adding that pollutants brought by construction, transportation and garbage may result in damage to soil.

A survey by the Environmental Protection and Land and Resources ministries in April 2014, found that 16.1 percent of soil samples investigated nationwide were contaminated.

The survey found 1.1 percent of the samples were severely polluted-the most serious level-and that soil contamination in the country’s southern regions was far worse than in northern areas.

Soil contamination in major industrial clusters, including the Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River Delta and cities in northeast, was worse than the national average, it found.

In Yuan’s view, any pollution may influence the quality of soil that relates to food safety, people’s livelihoods and sustainable development-”which is why it’s urgent to be solved by legislation as we did for air and water, although its management will be difficult”.

He said that the committee has been engaged in drafting legislation on soil control since 2013, with 15 rounds of research and 10 updates of the draft.

The legislation will clarify the duties of each government department in the prevention of soil pollution and lay down requirements for inspections and for monitoring industry, Yuan said.

“The problem of investment in soil control and ensuring agricultural products safety will be solved in the legislation,” he said.

“The document is expected to be submitted to the NPC Standing Committee in 2017 and put on its legislation agenda,” he said.

Chen Jining, minister of environmental protection, said in the ministry’s annual work report in January that it is considering the Action Plan on Soil Pollution Prevention and Control, a national campaign targeting soil pollution, and the process should be complete this year.