The Key Measures to Promote the Prevention and Control of Soil Pollution during the 14th Five-Year Plan

The Opinions of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and The State Council on Deepening the Battle against Pollution (hereinafter referred to as the Opinions) were published and implemented recently, making comprehensive plans for further strengthening ecological and environmental protection during the 14th Five-Year Plan period, and setting specific requirements for higher standards in the battle to protect clean land.

In recent years, relevant departments in all regions have successfully fulfilled the targets set in the Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Soil Pollution. This has initially curbed the aggravation of soil pollution and controlled the risk of soil pollution. Soil quality has remained stable. China has established laws and standards, promulgated and implemented the Law on the Prevention and Control of Soil Pollution, issued regulations on contaminated land and other soil environmental management departments, and formulated a series of standards and guidelines for the control of soil pollution and the risks of soil pollution. A detailed survey of soil pollution will be completed to preliminarily identify polluters in agricultural land and land used by key industries and enterprises in China. China has strengthened prevention and control of soil pollution at source, released a list of more than 10,000 key monitoring enterprises for soil pollution, and conducted inspections and rectification of enterprises in key industries involving cadmium and other heavy metals. We will advance the management of different agricultural land in an orderly manner and complete the classification of soil quality of farmland. We will actively implement measures for safe use and strict control of the land. A land access management system has been established. The soil management requirements for construction land have been incorporated into urban planning and land supply management, and all provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government) have published lists of soil pollution risk control and restoration list for construction land. A national soil environment information management platform has been put into operation, soil environment data and resources have been shared, and a soil environment monitoring network has been established.

First, we will strengthen the prevention and control of soil pollution sources.

The Opinions require intensive efforts to prevent and control sources of cadmium and other heavy metal pollution in agricultural land.  We must adhere to a systematic approach, and coordinate the prevention and control of soil pollution with the prevention and control of air, water, and solid waste pollution in an integrated manner. Enterprises involved in the discharge of cadmium and other heavy metals will be investigated and will be included in the list of key polluters in accordance with the law and regulations, the discharge of cadmium and other pollutants from heavy metal industries will be strictly controlled and the upgrading of standards will be encouraged. Focusing on the provinces where mineral resources development activities are concentrated, focusing on the mining areas of heavy non-ferrous metals, stone coal, pyrite, and other mining areas as well as the mining areas around the areas where arable land is concentrated under safe use and strict control,  identifying the disordered accumulation of historical solid waste, formulating remediation plans, treating the waste in stages and gradually eliminating the stock. In the counties (cities and districts) with prominent heavy metal pollution problems of arable land, the identification of soil pollution pathways and traceability of pollution sources of concentrated arable land will be carried out. In Hunan and other areas, a monitoring network for atmospheric heavy metal deposition has been established, and a sampling mechanism for agricultural irrigation water quality has been established. We will implement 100 projects to control soil pollution sources, upgrade existing enterprises to prevent leakage and reduce heavy metal emissions, and improve the management of waste residues left over from history.

Second, we will further promote the safe use of agricultural land.

According to the guideline, the safe utilization rate of polluted farmland will reach 93% by 2025. The coordinated monitoring and evaluation of arable soil and agricultural products should be strengthened, and the categories of arable soil environmental quality should be updated dynamically according to relevant standard guidelines. For arable land under priority protection, efforts should be strengthened to ensure that its area is not reduced and soil quality doesn’t decrease. According to law, arable land under priority protection that meets the requirements shall be classified as permanent basic farmland. In areas where permanent basic farmland is concentrated, no new construction projects that may cause soil pollution shall be planned. Protect and improve the quality of arable land and improve soil organic matter; Farmland soil acidification treatment will be carried out. With regard to arable land under safe use and strict control, we will guide relevant provinces to formulate plans and annual work plans for the safe use of polluted arable land during the 14th Five-Year Plan period, comprehensively implement measures for safe use and strict control and continuously promote the safe use of polluted arable land across the country. 100 counties with large areas of soil pollution were selected to carry out demonstrations on the safe use of agricultural land. We will strictly implement the quality and safety inspection system and traceability system for grain purchased and sold out of warehouses.

Third, we will effectively control the risk of soil pollution on construction land.

In accordance with the requirements of the Opinions, the land whose uses have been changed to housing, public management, and public service land shall be the focus of soil pollution investigation and risk assessment in accordance with the law. Strict access management shall be carried out, Illegal development and utilization shall be resolutely eliminated, and safe utilization shall be effectively guaranteed. Land parcels listed in the list of construction land for soil pollution risk control and restoration shall not be used as land for housing, public management, or public services. Land that has not carried out or completed the soil pollution investigation or risk assessment according to law, and land that has not reached the risk control and remediation targets determined in the soil pollution risk assessment report, shall not start construction of projects unrelated to risk control and remediation. The environmental risk of soil pollution in construction land should be taken into full consideration and the land use should be determined rationally when a regional territory development plan is drawn up. Strictly control the planning use of heavily polluted plots in pesticide, chemical, and other industries, and encourage them to be used to expand ecological space if they really need to be developed and utilized, so as to prevent the severely polluted plots from threatening the safety of human settlements from the planning source. We will promote risk control and restoration for relocation and renovation of vacated land for hazardous chemical production enterprises in key areas. We will strengthen risk control and supervision of remediation activities to prevent and control secondary pollution.

Author: Zhong Bin, Deputy Head of MEE’s Soil Department.

Source: MEE