China: Rapid Action to Protect Health and the Environment from Persistent Organic Pollutants

July 3, 2006

BEIJING, July 3, 2006 – China has taken rapid action to eliminate key persistent organic pollutants (POPs) targeted for phaseout worldwide due to their impacts on human health and environment. In the last six month, China completed preparation of the first two POPs  phaseout projects and secured for their implementation Global Environment Facility (GEF) grants of $32.7 million.


The first project, Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) Management and Disposal Demonstration Project, was approved by the World Bank Board of Executive Directors on December 15, 2005 as a pilot of innovative policy, institutional and disposal measures to eliminate PCBs in the Zhejiang Province. PCBs are broadly used in electrical equipment as dielectric fluid and caused widespread contamination of their storage sites. The project will demonstrate environmentally sound policies, and cost-effective approaches for safely disposing PCBs, PCB waste and decontaminating PCB sites. The total cost of the project will exceed $35 million, of which more than half is funded by the China, and $2.02 million is funded by Japan, Italy and the United States.


The second project, Demonstration of Alternatives to Chlordane and Mirex in Termite Control Project, was approved by the World Bank Board of Executive Directors on June 27, 2006 to eliminate the use of two highly toxic termiticides. The first project of its kind in the World Bank or GEF portfolio, it will assist China to phase out use of 15,000 kilograms (33,000 pounds) of chlordane and mirex, close their largest manufacturing facility, and adopt modern termite control methods based on integrated pest management (IPM). The project will cost $27.7 million approximately half of which will be funded by China.


The projects form the foundation of the China POPs program to implement the Stockholm Convention. "The contribution of these two innovative and pioneering projects to implementation of the Stockholm Convention in China cannot be overemphasized" said Helen Chan, the World Bank Coordinator for the POPs program in the East Asia and Pacific Region. "The projects break new ground in testing institutional approaches and demonstrating technologies. They will generate useful lessons for complete elimination of PCBs, chlordane and mirex not only in China but in all other Stockholm Convention countries facing similar challenges."


Both projects were prepared with significant bilateral support. Canada contributed approximately $1.0 million and Italy contributed €1.5 million as well as substantial technical expertise to advise the Chinese Government on project preparation.


In parallel with launching the two demonstration projects, China is finalizing a National Implementation Plan to phaseout all twelve POPs targeted for elimination under the Stockholm Convention. The Convention entered into force May 17, 2004, and has 151 signatory countries. GEF serves as the interim financing mechanism for the Convention.


POPs are a major environmental concern due to neurological damage, immune system disorders, cancer and a host of other health problems they cause. POPs persist in the environment for many years, travel long distances and accumulate in the food chain causing harm not only where they are produced and used, but globally. China's rapid steps towards their elimination demonstrate the Government's commitment to address this local and global environmental issue.

Media Contacts
In Washington
Helen Chan
Tel : (202) 458-2458
In Beijing
Li Li
Tel : (86-10)5861-7850