Should Shipping on the Yangtze be Made Safer and Cleaner?
Even when everything's going according to plan, cargo ships can be major sources of air pollution (see "Just 15 of the world's biggest ships may now emit as much pollution as all the world's 760m cars"), but when things go wrong and they're carrying dangerous chemicals, things can degenerate quite a bit. Chinese workers are currently trying to clean up two spills that took place on the Yangtze River this week (oil was spilled in one case and hydrochloric acid in the other).As Reuters says, "The accidents show the vulnerability of China's waterways, which are corridors for transporting industrial and chemical goods while also serving as a primary source of water for human use and agriculture."
Indeed, now seems like a good time for China to rethink its policies on the Yangtze. Is it waiting for a bigger and more toxic spill right in the water supply of hundreds of millions of people before it acts? This time people were lucky - it doesn't seem like the spills will cause too much problem, though it's always hard to know the long-term impact on ecosystems - but that luck is bound to run out sooner or later.