Massive Fish Kill on Hubei River is Latest Example of Environmental Degredation in China
written by: Ken Korczak
In another alarming reminder that China’s extraordinary economic growth is coming at the expense of a clean and safe environment, a massive fish die-off in the Fuhe River in Hubie Provence was discovered Wednesday, Sept. 4. At least 220,000 pound of silvery fish are clogging the Fuhe River from bank to bank for some 40 kilometers, or about 25 miles. Residents said the river looked like it was “covered with snow.” The culprit is believed to be the Hubei Shuanghuan Science and Technology Stock Company. A local newspaper alleges the chemical plant dumped a large quantity if industrial ammonia into the waterway.
China’s Sub Par Environmental Record
The massive fish kill follows a series of similar dismal incidents of dead animals in Chinese rivers, including an event earlier this year in which more than 16,000 of pigs were found floating in the Huangpu River. China’s lax environmental policies have drawn world criticism for being dismissive of the wide-scale environmental impacts of a loosely regulated business climate. Chinese industry has wreaked havoc on not only rivers, but massive portions of pristine forest and agricultural lands — as well as pollution of air, ocean and the groundwater supplies. The fish kill on the Fuhe River will have dire consequences for local residents who live near the river and depend on its fish for livelihood. The village of Huanghualao, with about 1,600 residents, is centered on the fishing economy. Authorities estimate the loss of fishing income for riverside dwellers to be about $92,000 per day. It is unclear if the company responsible for the fish kill will face serious consequences.
Part of a Larger Problem
Environmental policies in China tend to be extremely business friendly, giving industry little incentive to practice environmentally safe manufacturing practices. The fish kill in Hubei Provence is just the latest example of an ongoing and series of large pollution events in this region. A member of a local chapter of Greenpeace called Hubei Provence an area of “extreme environmental stress.” While China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection admits that “30 percent of China’s rivers are seriously polluted,” outside sources have placed that figure at more than 40 percent.