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Endangered Dolphins in Yangtze River
The Chinese government announced in December 2001 that it would spend 40 billion yuan ($4.8 billion) by 2010 on projects to clean up the Three Gorges and upstream stretches of the river. The State Environmental Protection Administration said the money would be spent on building 260 sewage treatment plants and 230 waste treatment facilities.
The new report on the scale of Yangtze pollution is a further welcome step, says Shen. "Their conceding to this level of pollution and admitting it is a human health concern might increase the budget for remediation and mitigation of the impacts," she says.
But the report also concluded that the river's water quality will continue to deteriorate. This will threaten the health of rare species such as the Yangtze River dolphin, as well as millions of people living in the river basin, say campaigners.
And Shen and other critics of the Three Gorges Dam are concerned that the clean-up funds announced by the Chinese government will be far from enough. Canadian environmental group Probe International says that in 2000, Chinese academics pleaded for $37 billion for environmental projects relating to the dam's construction.