Cocktail of chemicals being released from Lianyungang Chemical Industrial Park - Greenpeace investigation

Press release - 2017-05-27
Beijing, 25 May 2017 – A Greenpeace East Asia investigation at the Lianyungang Chemical Industrial Park in Jiangsu Province has identified 226 organic chemicals in air, soil and water samples taken in the vicinity of the park. Out of this cocktail of chemicals, only one quarter are subject to safety management as “hazardous chemicals” under current regulations. The chemicals found include 16 known and probable human carcinogens and three persistent organic pollutants (POPs), illegal under both Chinese and international law.

Desktop research shows that the Lianyungang Chemical Industrial Park has already received close to 200 penalties for noncompliance with environmental standards, from both county and municipal level environment authorities.

The findings in Lianyungang are symptomatic of a much broader problem of lax management of the chemicals industry in China, the world’s largest and fastest growing.

Cheng Qian, Deputy Head of Toxics Campaign at Greenpeace East Asia, said:

“The chemical industrial plant in Lianyungang is showing shocking negligence towards safety. Workers, public health and the environment are all at serious risk of chemical harm.“

“Despite being the world’s largest and fastest growing chemicals manufacturer, China’s chemicals management is extremely lax. The chemical industry must transform the way it operates and the Chinese government must urgently adopt a sound chemicals management system to ensure that the industry does not develop as a ticking time-bomb.”

A total of ten samples were collected from the vicinity of the Lianyungang Chemical Industrial Park between September and November 2016. Greenpeace took five samples from wastewater discharges, two from a small river running across the industrial park and a town called “Duigougang”, and three air samples. The water and sediment samples were sealed in situ and sent to the Greenpeace Research Laboratory in the University of Exeter for analysis.[1] The air samples were sent to Analyse Labor Berlin for testing for VOC and organic compounds.[2]

The chemicals industry in China has a registered turnover of RMB 8.7 trillion, and includes a total of 25,000 chemical enterprises, over 18,000 of which produce hazardous chemicals. The industry is estimated to grow at an average of 66% per year from 2012-20. There are currently 45,643 chemicals substances registered as produced, processed, sold or exported in China.[3]

Since 2008, all new chemical projects have been required to locate in chemical industrial parks.[4] Rapid urbanisation over the last eight years, however, has meant that residential areas have crept ever closer to chemical parks.

Home to 6,300 chemicals manufacturers, Jiangsu province is the second largest chemicals manufacturer in China. 30% of manufacturers in Jiangsu are currently located in chemical parks, and the province plans to reach 50% by 2020.[5] A Greenpeace mapping of Jiangsu’s chemical industrial parks 1984 to 2016 shows the extent of their expansion in three coastal cities.

Greenpeace urges the Chinese government to embrace an integrated and hazard-based approach to chemicals management, which should be fully aligned with the principles of sound chemicals management adopted by the United Nations (pollution prevention, precaution, internationalization of environmental and human health costs, and ensuring the public’s right-to-know).[6] Such a system must be precautionary and transparent, and promote the substitution of chemicals with green alternatives. Any new chemical industrial parks should be obliged to implement sound management practices and act as models to incentivise such practices. Moreover, legal instruments to ensure sound chemicals management is effectively implemented must be developed. 

Notes to Editors:

The full report is available HERE

[1] http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/about/greenpeace-science-unit-2/

[2] http://www.alab-berlin.de/

[3] ‘Inventory of Existing Chemical Substances (2013 Edition)’, http://www.zhb.gov.cn/gkml/hbb/bgg/201301/t20130131_245810.htm; ‘Supplementary Notice issued by the Ministry of Environmental Protection of China’, 2016, http://www.mep.gov.cn/gkml/hbb/bgg/201603/t20160315_332884.htm

[4] ‘Guiding Opinion of State Council’s Security Committee on Improving Work Safety of Hazardous Chemicals’, 2008, http://www.chinasafety.gov.cn/Contents/Channel_21135/2008/1007/199991/content_199991.htm

[5] ‘Plan of Guannan County for Rectification of Environmental Problems Found by Environmental Protection Inspectorate from Central Government’, General Office of CPC Committee and People’s Government of Guannan County, http://news.xinhuanet.com/politics/2016-11/15/c_129364881.htm; ‘The official reply of Jiangsu Provincial Government to the Central Government Environmental Protection Inspection Comment’ http://www.mep.gov.cn/gkml/hbb/qt/201704/t20170428_413172.htm

[6] ‘Practices in the Sound Management of Chemicals’, UNDESA, Stockholm Convention, UNEP, 2010, https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/index.php?page=view&type=400&nr=41&menu=35

Media Contacts:

Tom Baxter, International Communications Officer

Greenpeace East Asia, Beijing | +86 18811344861 |

Greenpeace International Press Desk, , phone: +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)

 

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