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Binhai New Area
Large number of petro plants threaten environment of bay
BEIJING - Petrochemical projects near North China's Bohai Bay have been a boon to the local economy but pose a threat to the region's environment, experts warn.
The empty sea
By Han Bingbin, Zhao Ruixue, Zhang Xiaomin and Eric Jou ( China Daily )

The empty sea

As the oil companies try to stop the Bohai leaks and the long legal process to proper compensation starts, that sea of controversy is still storm-tossed. The China Daily Sunday team of Han Bingbin, Zhao Ruixue, Zhang Xiaomin and Eric Jou spreads out along the coastal communities of Bohai to see how they are coping.

On the surface, Bohai caresses a shoreline that links some of China's most prosperous cities and municipalities. Its waters lap against the peninsula of Shandong and its jewel on the water, Qingdao, and across the water, another gem gleams in Dalian, Liaoning's pride and joy. In between the two are Hebei Province and Tianjin Municipality. The stellar neighborhood makes Bohai one of the busiest waterways in the country, if not the world. But let's dive much deeper. Underneath the glittering ocean surface, all is not well. Those who have traditionally depended on Bohai for their living say that in another 10 years or so, they will have to look for other work. The sea is dying, they conclude sadly. They listed the signs for our reporters. Where once fishermen could catch uncountable varieties of fish and crustaceans, the nets now come up mostly empty. As proof, fishermen point out that migrating birds and spawning fish have given Bohai a wide berth. No whales or sharks have been seen for years. Even the sea gulls, indomitable scavengers, are less and less seen. The last season they visited Dalian, they dived into what they thought was the shimmer of fish, and came up covered in oil sludge. Creatures of the air and sea learn fast. And it seems, they learn their lessons a lot better than men. In this special issue, our team of reporters takes a closer look at the people who live by the sea, and listen as they talk about their beloved Bohai, their hopes, their desperation and their resignation.

The empty sea

(China Daily 09/04/2011 page1)

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