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Metal Casting Technologies : December 2007
METAL Casting Technologies December 2007 36 CHINA'S ENVIRONMENTAL CONSCIOUSNESS It was reported earlier this year that the city of Linfen in the Shanxi Province of China has appeared several times at the top of the World Bank's list of the most polluted cities on Earth. It has also qualified for the US-based Blacksmith Institute's list of the top 10 most contaminated places in the world, which includes Chernobyl. There are reportedly plans to close "160 of 196 iron foundries and 57 of 153 coking plants" by the end of the year, the director of the city's environmental bureau, Yang Zhaofen, said. "The mayor says we can sacrifice economic growth in order to improve air quality. That used to be unthinkable." Urumqi has now replaced Linfen as China's most polluted city. According to Xinhua News Agency, China's State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) had recommended earlier this year that local authorities suspend a number of companies and industrial parks for defying pollution limits, including a foundry in east China's Anhui Province. China's environmental law stipulates that companies must design, build, and use pollution control facilities in new production projects. A recent investigation by SEPA showed 87 per cent of 126 industrial parks in 11 provinces had violated environmental laws and regulations. It also showed that 44 percent of the 529 companies that SEPA inspected broke environmental rules. On July 12, the Administration unveiled a set of tough new rules to tackle worsening lake and river pollution. The Ministry of Supervision also ordered administrative punishments of local officials who neglect their supervision duties. By June 30, more than 220,000 firms in China had undergone environmental checks, with more than 8,000 companies and 170 people punished for over-discharge of pollutants and other illegal practices. Recent legal initiatives such as the TVE law put regulatory pressure on rural industry for technological transformation and energy efficiency. However, the enforcement and implementation of these laws at the county-level has been slow thus far. In addition, the UN Development Programme project found that pollution fees imposed on "dirty" TVEs by environmental protection bureaus do little to promote changed behaviour of polluters. They are not significant enough to encourage cleaner production and not used to promote technological innovation of polluters. Instead, they contribute to more general clean-up activities as well as to the general local budget. AUSTRALIA PROMOTING ENVIRONMENTAL TECHNOLOGIES Austrade, the federal government's trade agency, is aggressively promoting Australian environmental technologies in China, and reported that about RMB400 billion has been invested in pollution control during the last five years along with an accumulated total of US$33 billion of foreign investment in environmental projects. According to Austrade there are currently 9,300 companies specialising in environmental protection, employing 1.7 million people. Ninety-five per cent of enterprises are small companies manufacturing primary treatment equipment, which are low-end technology, of poor quality, low on reliability and automation, and costly to operate. Of the local treatment equipment installed, only one third operates normally, one third is unable to maintain proper operation and one third is inoperable. In the next five years the industry will grow 15 per cent a year with the total production value over approximately US$17 billion, 1.4 per cent of the GDP. A report released by the Chinese Academy of Sciences late last year, stressed the need to address environmental issues in the improvement of the metal casting industries in China. The development of environment-friendly raw and subsidiary materials should be given greater consideration, the report suggested. The 3-R principle of reducing, reusing and recycling should be made a conduct standard of the industry. The study urged the Government to make further investment on engineering centres for the development of general-purpose and high technologies in this regard. CLOSE ALL CASTING MILLS WITH OUT-MODED TECHNOLOGY The legislation on energy and environmental protection should to be stressed, said the report. "All casting mills with out- moded technology and serious pollution have to be closed for good and the workers must enjoy better treatment, including the acquirement of the professional insurance and technical renewal of the energy management and installations of high power consumption." At the 7th National Congress of Foundry Directors, in 2006, honorary president of the China Foundry Association Guo Shuyan said that communication with Central and Local Governments in China was the key to developing future roadmaps for the foundry industry: "To restructure foundry enterprises and encourage the forming of well-run big groups." He used the iron casting process as an example of the need to improve environmental protection standards. Environmental Report