China’s southern Guangdong province discharged billions of tons of raw sewage last year into the Pearl River Delta that supplies Hong Kong and Macau, the China Daily newspaper reported today.
About 9.5 billion tons of raw sewage, or three-fourths of Guangdong’s output, flowed untreated into local rivers, the newspaper said, citing findings published by the province’s Department of Water Resources. More than half of that amount went into the Pearl River Delta, it said.
The report said that 30 percent of rivers in eastern Guangdong are polluted, threatening the health of people who live along their banks. Guangdong, with a population of 104 million people, has China’s largest economy and is one of the world’s biggest manufacturing centers.
Environmental contamination has fueled social unrest in China as three decades of growth transformed the nation into the world’s second-biggest economy and its largest polluter. President Hu Jintao and other senior officials have repeatedly pledged to reduce pollution.
Officials in southern China said last week that the city of Shifang stopped construction of a copper plant after protesters fearful of its potential impact on the environment clashed with police. Twelve industrial plants in the country’s east were temporarily closed after more than 12 children were found to have high levels of lead in their blood, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported July 8.
— With assistance by Nick Wadhams