Major China coal plant drains lake, wells: Greenpeace

July 23, 2013
This file photo shows a coal mine in Huo Lin Guo Le, China's north Inner Mongolia region, on November 15, 2010. A major state-owned coal producer has caused "drastic drops" in groundwater near one of its projects in the region, the environmental group Greenpeace said in a report.

A major Chinese state-owned coal producer has caused "drastic drops" in groundwater near one of its projects, the environmental group Greenpeace said in a report.

Lakes have shrunk, wells have dried and are spreading near a plant in Inner Mongolia run by coal conglomerate Shenhua Group, the organisation said on Tuesday.

It called the project a "classic example of the unchecked expansion of coal-reliant industries that is in growing conflict with China's water resources".

China—the world's biggest energy consumer—relies heavily on coal to power its economy, but is facing popular pressure to balance growth with tackling pollution.

The plant in Ordos, the capital of Inner Mongolia, a major coal-producing region, uses coal to make chemicals.

To enable production it extracts water from the Haolebaoji area 100 kilometres (60 miles) away, Greenpeace said, citing 11 visits to the area over five months this year.

A lake called Subeinaoer has dropped in surface area by 62 percent from 2004 to 2011, it said, and residents must now dig wells at least 100 metres (330 feet) deep, while farmers and herders have complained of disappearing grazing.

Sand dunes have spread as land covered by vegetation has shrunk, the campaign group added.

Shenhua Group is not the same company as the firm which owns Didier Drogba's former football club Shanghai Shenhua.

China is the world's largest producer and user of coal, accounting for for nearly half of worldwide consumption.

Beijing has set a target of raising non- use to 15 percent of its total consumption by 2020, up from 10 percent in 2010.

Pollution has become a popular grievance, with communities around China protesting industrial plants that they fear could harm the environment or their health.

A study released earlier this month in US scientific journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that a decades-old Chinese policy of giving free for winter heating to residents in the north of the country has shaved more than five years off life expectancy there.

Explore further: China plans Asia's biggest coal-fired power plant

Related Stories

China plans Asia's biggest coal-fired power plant

December 27, 2011

China's Shenhua Group will build the largest coal-fired power station in Asia over the next five years, the official Xinhua news agency said Tuesday, as the country struggles to meet its energy needs.

China risking water crisis due to coal: Greenpeace

August 14, 2012

Environmental campaigners Greenpeace urged China Tuesday to review plans for a huge expansion in coal mines and power plants, warning of a water crisis in the country's already arid north.

China energy consumption rises 3.9% in 2012

February 24, 2013

Energy consumption by China, the world's leading emitter of CO2, rose 3.9 percent in 2012 from the previous year but fell by 3.6 percent per unit of gross domestic product, the government said.

China to boost renewable energy in 2013

March 5, 2013

China will sharply boost renewable energy this year, it said Tuesday, after repeated bouts of heavy pollution across much of the country heightened public anger on the issue over recent weeks.

Recommended for you

Can Paris pledges avert severe climate change?

November 26, 2015

More than 190 countries are meeting in Paris next week to create a durable framework for addressing climate change and to implement a process to reduce greenhouse gases over time. A key part of this agreement would be the ...

Amazon deforestation leaps 16 percent in 2015

November 28, 2015

Illegal logging and clearing of Brazil's Amazon rainforest increased 16 percent in the last year, the government said, in a setback to the aim of stopping destruction of the world's greatest forest by 2030.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

3.7 / 5 (6) Jul 23, 2013
Get used to this. China is moving toward 'our' future and a horrendous pace and this will continue until new science give it a true option.
3 / 5 (8) Jul 24, 2013
On the up side, the drastic slowdown in China's economic growth may have bought us some time to mitigate man's unintended tinkering with the ecosystem.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.