MAC: Mines and Communities

FACTBOX - Cross-Border Pollution Strains Ties in Asia

Published by MAC on 2007-02-23

FACTBOX - Cross-Border Pollution Strains Ties in Asia

PlanetArk USA

23rd February 2007

South Korea's meteorological administration warned of a Thursday start to the annual sandstorms that sweep across from China and cause scores of deaths.

Here are some facts on the sources and victims of transnational pollution in Asia:


- Smoke from Indonesia's seasonal forest fires from land clearing has blanketed its neighbours Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei in a choking grey-brown haze every summer since 1997.

- Indonesia says it lacks the expertise to control the fires and has pointed out that Singaporean and other Asian investors either have stakes, or own, the palm plantations routinely blamed for some of the fires.


- Japan complains that soot and other pollutants from China's mostly coal-burning power stations have poisoned its lakes and prevailing winds carry China's main air pollutants, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, to the Korean peninsula, Japan and the North Pacific.

- Bangladesh says coal emissions from China and India pollute its air, especially during the November-March dry season.

- Hong Kong has said heavy industries in South China's Pearl River Delta are behind the city's worsening, near-constant smog.


- Spring sandstorms from the Gobi Desert, on China's border with Mongolia, routinely dump sand and dust on down-wind neighbours South Korea and Japan in the spring.

- The United States and Canada have also reported dust from Chinese sandstorms has travelled across the Pacific Ocean to deposit harmful chemicals such as mercury and arsenic in their lakes.

- China blames deforestation and land degradation for the storms, and is building a "great green wall" of trees on the outskirts of Beijing to stop the Gobi's gradual expansion.


- South Korean and Japanese fishermen complain that petrochemical waste and heavy metals from China are killing off marine life in the East China Sea, while Hong Kong authorities say it is putting mangroves under threat.

- The Taiwan-controlled sub-tropical island of Kinmen in the South China Sea is also a frontline victim of drifting Chinese garbage.

- About 800 tonnes of bottles, plastic bags, rags and effluent from the Chinese city of Xiamen, less than 2 kilometres across the sea, were cleared off its beaches last year, a government-run magazine said in January.

Source: Reuters


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