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Chinese gov't mulls rules on timely reporting of environmental emergencies

(Xinhua)

11:13, September 15, 2011

JINAN, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- The government is mulling rules to punish those who fail to perform their duties to timely report major pollution cases, according to a senior official with the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP).

The MEP and the Ministry of Supervision will jointly release the regulations on questioning the responsibilities of relevant parties in failing to deal with major environmental emergencies properly, said MEP vice minister Zhang Lijun Wednesday at a meeting on the safety of drinking water sources.

Zhang did not reveal when the rules will be released, but said that local governments will be required to immediately report all cases of pollution that could threaten the safety of drinking water.

Figures from the ministry show that 70 percent of the 49 major environmental emergencies that occurred between 2006 to 2010 concerned the safety of drinking water.

More than 20 environmental emergencies related to drinking water have been reported so far this year.

Zhang noted various problems existing in the country's current drinking water management such as insufficient information transparency, inadequate risk prevention and measures to deal with emergencies and the lack of an effective system to pursue punishment for individuals and groups with malpractices.

According to Zhang, "a bunch of" locations with drinking water sources are not entitled as reserve areas, and many such areas have been polluted by water upriver.

Zhang said the country will set up a mechanism to protect drinking water sources in five years and use remote sensing satellites to monitor the distribution of harmful materials in these areas.

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