China Finds 60% of Groundwater to Be Poor or Worse

Almost 60 percent of the groundwater at 4,778 sites monitored across China has been found to be of poor or extremely poor quality, contaminated with pollutants that exceed acceptable standards.

About 16 percent of the sites saw water quality worsen from the previous year, the Ministry of Land and Resources said in the 2013 annual report posted yesterday on its website. Excesses were found of manganese and fluoride, with some monitored sites showing high lead, chromium or arsenic levels.

China has become more vocal about trying to curb water, air and soil contamination in the nation of 1.3 billion people. More than 2 percent of the country’s arable land, an area the size of Belgium, is too polluted to grow crops, Vice Minister of Land and Resources Wang Shiyuan said in December. China leads in global coal consumption, the dirtiest of fossil fuels.

A clean-water action plan is being readied to protect drinking sources, Premier Li Keqiang said in March, declaring “war” on smog in a speech and vowing to shut coal-fired furnaces among other measures. The water supply for 2.4 million residents of the northern city of Lanzhou was found last week to be contaminated after an oil pipeline leak with benzene, a carcinogenic compound used to manufacture plastic.

— With assistance by Feifei Shen

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