Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Water Pollution Tingjiang (汀江)- "客家母親河"

Water Pollution in China

According to the World Bank forecast, Mainland China has only a per-capita share of 2700 cubic meters per annum, one quarter of the world's average. Half of China's 617 largest cities face water deficits. Beijing is among the cities which will be most affected. Northern China is now relying on underground water that was formed 10,000 years ago to meet the demand of China's large population, which has resulted in ground cracking and subsidence in some regions. The serious water pollution in China added more salt to the wound.

China is now facing acute environmental problems after two decades of rapid economic growth, and water pollution is one of them. The severe water pollution incidents occurring one after another in recent years were a striking reflection of the problem. The cost of water pollution in China is between 3.5 and 8 percent of GDP. Water pollution incidents can be categorized into two types. The first occurs when a great volume of pollutant is discharged within a short time period from an accident. The Songhua River toxic spill which occurred in November 2005 is a typical example of this type. The second type of water pollution incident is an accumulative effect of pollutant discharge over a long period which eventually causes severe water pollution at a certain time point. The drinking water source pollution in Wuxi by algae in Tai Lake occurred in May 2007 is an example of the second type.

Once a water pollution incident occurs, no matter what type it is, it can be a serious threat to the local economy, people’s livelihoods, health, and the aquatic ecological system in a short time. If the response is not appropriate, it could have cross-boundary effects.

Leading Chinese environmental activist and journalist Ma Jun has warned that China is facing a water crisis that includes water shortages, water pollution and a deterioration in water quality. 400 out of 600 cities in China are facing water shortages to varying degrees, including 30 out of the 32 largest cities. Discharges of waste water have increased continually over the years 2001-2006, and Ma's statistics show that 300 million peasants’ drinking water is not safe. In 2004 the World Bank warned that the scarcity of the resource would lead to "a fight between rural interests, urban interests and industrial interests on who gets water in China.". The validity of this prediction was confirmed, for example, in April 2005 when many people were injured in Dongyang city, Zhejiang Province, in clashes over the nearby chemical factories of the Juxi Industrial Park accused of water pollution that harmed crops and led to deformed babies being born(source: wikipedia).

On 9 Feb 2010, China’s government unveiled its most detailed survey ever of the pollution plaguing the country, revealing that water pollution in 2007 was more than twice as severe as was shown in official figures that had long omitted agricultural waste. The first national pollution census, environmentalists said, represented a small step forward for China in terms of transparency. But the results also raised serious questions about the shortcomings of China’s previous pollution data and suggested that even with limited progress in some areas, the country still had a long way to go to clean its waterways and air.

Pollution kills three quarters of a million people in China every year, according to previously unreleased World Bank statistics. The figures, almost twice previous estimates, were calculated using a new statistical model. But they have been suppressed until now because the government feared they would cause social unrest, according to reports(source:

The price paid for uncontrolled economic development in China is obviously very high; the cost is higher in view of corruption and the size of the country which take 2 years delay in Pollution Statistic collection. The reliability of official statistic due to lack of transparency is another problem.

Pollution in Tingjiang
Recently, a sewage leakage from a copper mine has contaminated a local river, Tingjiang River in China's Fujian province, causing mass deaths of fishes, environmental authorities confirmed. An initial investigation has found the leakage was from a plant of the Zijinshan Copper Mine, a copper hydrometallurgical segment of the Hong Kong-listed Zijin Mining Group Co, China's largest gold producer headquartered in Shanghang county.

Tingjiang- Mother river of all the Hakkas(Upstream)

Tingjiang or Ting River(汀江) is also called the mother river of Hakka people. The Ting River (Chinese: 汀江; pinyin: Tíng Jiāng) flows 300 km from Changting County in western Fujian south, flowing through Chayangzhen, Sanhezhen , Dapu, to the port and Special Economic Zone of Shantou, Guangdong. The river is then called Hanjiang(韩江). The Tingjiang is unique among Fujianese rivers in that its lower watershed and debouchement are outside the province. The traffic in Tingzhou-fu/Changting then (before road and rail came very recently) was always primarily with eastern areas of Guangdong, namely Meizhou(梅州) and, further down, the Min-Nan-speaking Chao-Shan area -- Chaozhou (潮州) and Shantou (汕头). It flow through the area occupied mainly by Hakka people, from Changting, Fujian Province to Sanhezhen, where it joined with two other rivers to form Hanjiang or Han River, which flow to Dapu, Guangdong Province(another Hakka area) until Shantou, Guangdong.

The former prefecture of Tingzhou fu or T'ingchow-fu (汀州府) was administered from a centre on the upper river, now the town of Tingzhou(汀州)in Changting County; all these places are named after the river. As most inhabitants of Tingzhou-fu/Changting are Hakka, and as (Hakka-speaking) Meizhou (梅州) is next downstream, the Tingjiang is considered by some to be the mother river of all the Hakkas.

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Hanjiang - Mother River of all the Teochew(Downstream)
The Han River or Hanjiang (韩江) is a river in southeast China that flows into the South China Sea. It is located mainly in eastern Guangdong province and has a total length of 410 km. Hanjiang flow through the Hakka area in the upstream and continue to Chaozhou or Teochew people area in the downstream. The river is named after Han Yu(韩愈,768—824). He was a precursor of Neo-Confucianism as well as an essayist and poet, during the Tang dynasty. The Indiana Companion calls him "comparable in stature to Dante, Shakespeare or Goethe" for his influence on the Chinese literary tradition (p. 397). He stood for strong central authority in politics and orthodoxy in cultural matters. He is also among China's finest prose writers, second only to Sima Qian(司马迁), and first among the "Eight Great Prose Masters of the Tang and Song". Song Dynasty poet Su Shi(苏轼) or Su Dongpo (蘇東坡) praised Han Yu that he had written prose which "raised the standards after 8 dynasties of literary weaknesses" (文起八代之衰).

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The administration of Shanghang(上杭县)

Shanghang (上杭县) is a populous county of Longyan Municipality in Fujian Province. The county's most famous cultural-historical attraction is in the town of Gutian (古田镇), namely the site of the Gutian Congress (1929 December).

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As of 1998, Shanghang administers 9 towns (zhen, 镇). Aside of Linjiang and Gutian, they are :

* Lincheng (临城镇)
* Rentian (稔田镇)
* Nanyang (南阳镇)
* Caixi (才溪镇)
* Baisha (白砂镇)
* Lanxi (蓝溪镇)
* Zhongdu (中都镇)

The county has 13 townships (xiang, 乡):

* Shanhu (珊瑚乡) 
* Jiuxian (旧县乡)
* Huyang (湖洋乡)
* Jiaoyang (蛟洋乡) - site of the eponymous 1929 congress
* Tongxian (通贤乡)
* Buyun (步云乡)
* Xikou (溪口乡)
* Chadi (茶地乡)
* Panjing (泮境乡)
* Taiba (太拔乡)
* Xiadu (下都乡)

Two are especially for the native tribes :

* Guanzhuang She-nation Ethnic Township (官庄畲族乡)
* Lufeng She-nation Ethnic Township (庐丰畲族乡)

Recent Tingjiang or Ting River pollution
A sewage leakage from a copper mine has contaminated a local river, Tingjiang River in China's Fujian province, causing mass deaths of fish, environmental authorities confirmed. An initial investigation has found the leakage was from a plant of the Zijinshan Copper Mine, a copper hydrometallurgical segment of the Hong Kong-listed Zijin Mining Group Co, China's largest gold producer headquartered in Shanghang county. The water pollution of Tingjiang in upstream of the Mother River of Hakka People, may caused pollution in the downstream at Sanhezhen, Dapu, Chaozhou (潮州) and Shantou (汕头)- the land of Chaozhou or Teochew people, if continue uncontrolled. Since these areas are the ancestral homeland of oversea Chinese, will the pollution of Tingjiang have negative implication to them?...... they may pressure or lobby for the Chinese authority to put priority on the solving of the pollution problem.

The provincial government has sent a work group to investigate the pollution. About 1.89 million kg of fish in a reservoir on the river were dead or poisoned after the contamination.

Pollution from Zijinshan Copper Mine, owned by Zijin Mining Group Co Ltd, had severely contaminated the river, killing thousands of fish at Shanghang county (上杭县). A total of 9,100 cubic meters of waste water penetrated the sewage tank and flowed through the drainage culvert into the Tingjiang River between 4 pm on July 3 and 2:30 pm on July 4, Lan said. Preliminary investigations showed that the penetration occurred due to the damage in the impermeable membrane of the sewage tank.

Luo Yingnan, head of the company, on Tuesday restated the company's claim that drinking water was safe. "The leak does not affect local drinking water." But villagers remain suspicious.

"I wouldn't dare drink the bluish, smelly water," said Liao Zhiyuan, villager of nearby Shangshan village, Yongding county. The river is light blue due to the copper contained in wastewater leaked to the river and it smells of rotten fish. About 1.89 million kg of fish in the Mianhuatan Reservoir in Yongding county were killed.

Villagers have resorted to well water, but some still worry that even groundwater is no longer safe. "If the water poisoned fish, how can I be sure that the water is safe for people? I am afraid that even groundwater was contaminated," said Xue Huadi, a villager of Hekang village, Shanghang county.

Shares in Zijin Mining (OOTC:ZIJMY) dived 5.35 percent to 5.66 yuan (84 US cents) Tuesday in Shanghai. The company had suspended trading in its shares on Monday.

The company has said it would compensate fish farmers for their losses and had suspended production at the mine.

SHANGHANG, Fujian - Local government officials Tuesday declared an East China community's drinking water safe after a mining company contaminated a river 10 days ago.

However, many of the 60,000 people whose water sources were affected by the spill say they still fear drinking the water as the river color remains a chemical blue and the water gives off a foul smell.

The water quality was up to the national standard of safety as a drinking water source, said Lan Fuyan, deputy head of Shanghang county government, in Fujian province.

Eight water quality monitoring points had been set up at the upper, middle and lower reaches of the Tingjiang River and all water samples had shown that by July 8, the river water was safe, Lan said.

The two water plants in the county that take water from the river stopped their supplies between 6 am on July 4 and 2 am on July 5, said Lan.

Gold company defends handling of contamination
By Wei Tian and Cheng Yingqi (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-07-14 07:36

SHANGHANG, Fujian - The country's top gold producer defended its handling of a toxic spill that killed off vast numbers of fish, saying heavy rains were to blame, as the company's shares slumped.

Pollution from Zijinshan Copper Mine, owned by Zijin Mining Group Co, has contaminated the Tingjiang River, a major waterway in East China's Fujian province, leading to the poisoning of up to 1,890 tons of fish, local environmental authorities said on Monday.

The spill happened on July 3, but the company did not announce the incident until a press briefing on Monday afternoon.

"There has been no cover-up, no misrepresentation of the facts and no important omissions," the company said in a statement.

"Zijin Mining... will take full responsibility for the truthfulness and accuracy of its statements."

A press officer for Zijin Mining told China Daily that the company reported the spill to the local government immediately.

Heng Kun, an analyst with Essence Security, told China Daily that sources from Zijin Mining had informed him that the Fujian investigation team had suggested Zijin Mining hold back news of the incident to prevent causing any public panic over drinking water.

China Daily contacted the Fujian environmental protection department but there was no response forthcoming.

The company, China's third largest copper producer, blamed the mishap on torrential rains that have pounded Fujian for the past few weeks, saying it had responded immediately to the incident and controlled the spill within 24 hours.

Shares in Zijin Mining dived 4.68 percent to 5.70 yuan ($0.84) at midday on Tuesday in Shanghai. Analysts said stockholders of Zijin Mining were likely to "face higher risks.

"The company did not suspend its stock transaction immediately after so serious an incident, this is so irresponsible," an unnamed analyst was quoted by Economic Daily as saying on Tuesday.

While the company denied "covering up the incident for nine days", local villagers said the secret was hidden even longer.

"The fish began to die more than 20 days ago after a rainstorm on June 20," said Huang Zongqiang, 35, a fisherman from Hetoucun village in Fengshi town of Fujian province.

The copper mine was closed after the spill and will not be reopened before modifications required by the government have been completed.

According to Heng Kun, the copper mine might lose 100 million yuan of profit in the second half of this year, counting for 1.8 percent of Zijin Mining's annual net profit.

Wei Xiaoshung, an analyst with the China Merchants Securities company, said the gold output there was "crucial to the group", which counts for about 60 percent of its total gold production.

The company will also have to pay for the fish that died from the water pollution.

The local government of Shanghang county was buying the fish at 12 yuan a kilogram and the fish fry at 24 yuan a kilogram. However, fish keepers said they were still losing money.

Huang said his fish refused to eat and was losing weight, and the government told him that he would not allowed to raise fish in the river in the coming years.

(source: AFP contributed to this story).

Zijin Mining Group
Zijin Mining Group is one of the largest gold producers in China. The company owns eight gold and copper mines. It operates the Zijinshan Gold Mine (which is the largest open-pit gold mine in China) and three other gold mines in production. The company also owns copper and gold mines that are under construction. In addition to the development and exploration of mining resources, Zijin Mining provides services in geological studies and mining consulting. Though its operations are largely confined to China, Zijin Mining has expanded its horizons in the latter half of the decade and has expanded its exploration activities to other countries.

Zijin Mining or Zijin (SEHK: 2899,SSE: 601899) (simplified Chinese: 紫金矿业; traditional Chinese: 紫金礦業) is a leading Chinese gold, copper and non-ferrous metals producer and refiner in Mainland China. It is one of the largest Chinese gold producer in China. It now operates the Zijinshan Gold Mine, the largest open pit gold mine in China, and other three gold mines in production.

In 2006, Zijin had 49.28 tons of the gold output and the gold produced from mining reached 20.70 tons, respectively accounting for 20.53% of China's total gold production and 11.51% of the gold produced from mining in China in the same year

Approximately 300 million nationwide have no access to clean water. Furthermore,over 700 million Chinese drink fetid water below World Health Organization standards. Almost 90% of underground water in cities are affected by pollution and 80% of China’s rivers fail to meet standards for fishing. Almost all of the nation's rivers are considered polluted to some degree, and half of the population lacks access to clean drinking water. Ninety percent of urban water bodies are severely polluted. Water scarcity also is an issue; for example, severe water scarcity in Northern China is a serious threat to sustained economic growth and has forced the government to begin implementing a large-scale diversion of water from the Yangtze River to northern cities, including Beijing and Tianjin.

When will China solve its water problem?...not easy problem as water has been the critical issue in China since ancient time. The huge needs of its large population, uncontrolled development, corruption, political will, awareness...are the obstacles in water pollution prevention measures in China. To China, Tingjiang pollution is a small issue, there are much more serious problem in other bigger rivers.....

Related Articles

2. COST OF POLLUTION IN CHINA: ECONOMIC ESTIMATES OF PHYSICAL DAMAGES(2007),published by the Rural Development, Natural Resources and Environment
Management Unit, World Bank,
3. China water crisis,
4. Pollution kills 750,000 in China every year,
5. China Report Shows More Pollution in Waterways,

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