FocusChina omits chemicals in polluters curb

22 August 2007 05:23  [Source: ICIS news]

China omits chem sector in latest polluters curbBy Florence Tan

SINGAPORE (ICIS news)--China late on Tuesday imposed environmental approval as a prerequisite for new stockmarket listings but surprisingly exempted possibly the biggest culprit - the chemical sector.

Companies in the thermal power, steel, cement and aluminium industries seeking to list or sell new shares will have to be assessed by the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) which will feedback to the securities agency.

The latest curb follows a credit crunch on 30 blacklisted polluters whose names were sent to financial institutions in late July.

Companies seeking listings have been required to submit environment records since 2003, but the latest SEPA initiative will add pressure on the four industries while China reels from a string bad publicity abroad ranging from chemical hazards to quality concerns.

However, the chemical sector, responsible for several pollution incidents in recent years, was missing from the list.

SEPA officials declined to comment on the omission.

Accidents at chemical plants and high concentrations of organic compounds in lakes have disrupted water supplies in various parts of China.

In late May, an algae bloom choked Taihu, the country’s third largest freshwater lake, and left over 2m Wuxi residents without any tap water. Chemical plants were ordered to close or move away from the lake and the SEPA ordered a clean-up of industrial parks and projects.

Earlier, a blast at Jilin Petrochemical’s aniline plant in November 2005, leaked benzene into the Songhua river and caused millions to go without drinking water.

The Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, a non-government organisation in China which collates information on polluters, said over a third of the companies on its lists produced chemicals, pharmaceuticals, paper and rubber.

The agency provided late on Tuesday a mixed report on its pollution control efforts in the first half of 2007. China’s sulphur dioxide emissions fell 0.88% compared with the same period a year ago, but its chemical oxygen demand (COD) emissions rose 0.24%.

COD is used to measure the amount of organic compounds in water.

By: Florence Tan
+65 6780 4359

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