Beijing city recently released regulations to address soil pollution, including by controlling use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers, and strengthening monitoring of industrial polluters.
The new rules will come into force at the beginning of next year. They are one of 15 sets produced by provincial-level governments across China to aid implementation of the national soil pollution law, Jiemian News has reported.
That law, which entered service in 2019, clarified who is responsible for preventing and managing soil pollution, and adopted a protection-first and polluter-pays approach.
Most of the provincial regulations are firmest of all on violations that lead to groundwater contamination, raising the maximum fine to 2 million yuan (US$300,000).
China has been grappling with severe soil pollution for years. In 2014, 16.1% of soil samples collected from around the country showed evidence of pollution, a joint survey by two ministries found.
The issue poses a threat to the quality of arable land and food security. “Heavy metal pollution of soil in southern China, the most important grain-producing area, is more serious than in northern China”, Chen Tongbin, a soil expert at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told Jiemian.
The primary sources of soil pollution in the last century are non-ferrous metal mining, smelting and discharge of industrial effluent, according to Chen. He warns that once soil pollution occurs, it is difficult and costly to treat.
Su Kejing, director of soil ecology at the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, said earlier this year that the central government will continue to push local governments at all levels to address soil pollution.