Greenpeace: Shenhua coal project dumps toxic water in China

Greenpeace: Shenhua coal-to-liquid pilot in near Ordos City in Inner Mongolia is draining groundwater and discharging high levels of toxic wastewater, according to a report released Tuesday by the environmental campaign group. The Greenpeace Shenhua report found that the coal project drained more than 50 million tonnes of groundwater from the Haolebaoji region since 2006.

Qiu Bo/Greenpeace/Reuters/File
A photo taken in May shows what Greenpeace says is a pipe discharging factory waste water from the Shenhua coal-to-liquid project into a stream in the hills in Ordos in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The Greenpeace Shenhua report comes as China's new leadership steps up its focus on pollution amid growing protests over environmental degradation.

A project operated by China's largest coal miner, Shenhua Group, has reduced groundwater levels in a region of Inner Mongolia and discharged high levels of toxic wastewater, environmental campaign group Greenpeace said on Tuesday.

The report, the first by Greenpeace to single out and publicly challenge one of China's powerful state-owned companies, comes as the country's new leadership steps up its focus on pollution amid growing protests over environmental degradation.

China recently cancelled plans to build a $6 billion uranium processing plant after hundreds of protestors took to the streets.. Other petrochemical projects have also been cancelled after mass demonstrations.

Shenhua's coal-to-liquid pilot close to Ordos city is one of three such projects operating in China. It has drained more than 50 million tonnes of groundwater from the Haolebaoji region since 2006, Greenpeace said in the report.

"We are taking these allegations very seriously and we will start our own investigations into the project to ensure that it meets all environment-related regulations," a spokeswoman from Shenhua Group said.

"We will release our own environmental report on the project after the investigation."

The Greenpeace investigation, which the group said was based on 11 field trips to the Shenhua project from March to July this year, found high levels of toxic chemicals in discharged wastewater. It said many other carcinogenic compounds were identified in sediment samples.

"Shenhua claims its coal-to-liquid project has 'low water consumption' and 'zero discharge'. Our investigation proves these claims are false," Greenpeace East Asiacampaigner Deng Ping said.

"Shenhua's practices are violating Chinese water resource principles and laws controlling industrial waste water discharge."

Shenhua's coal-to-liquid project has a production capacity of 1.08 million tonnes a year, with plans to expand to 5 million tonnes.

Plans to scale up the project would see its water use triple to 41 million tonnes by 2017, according to Greenpeace.

Coal-to-liquid technology turns the traditional fuel into petrochemicals. The process has long been controversial due to its high water and energy needs but with slowing growth of coal power generation, China's coal companies are seeking new markets. More than 100 coal chemical projects are currently waiting for approval, said Li Yan,Greenpeace climate and energy manager.

"This is why we chose to stand out against a big iconic project like Shenhua coal-to-liquid at this time as it's still possible that some major decisions can be shifted because of environmental concerns."

The Ordos city government has also claimed damage caused by Shenhua's coal-to-liquid project in two notices published on its website, pointing to reduced groundwater levels, irrigation problems, and a lack of safe drinking water for residents. It cited petitions from residents and warned of the threat to social harmony, recommending the relocation of farmers and compensation for water losses. (Reporting By Dominique Patton; Additional reporting by Fayen Wong; Editing by Michael Urquhart)

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Greenpeace: Shenhua coal project dumps toxic water in China
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Latest-News-Wires/2013/0723/Greenpeace-Shenhua-coal-project-dumps-toxic-water-in-China
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe