Korea, China, Japan to Trace Transboundary Air Pollution in Region

[Korea Times: 12-02-96]

A working group consisting of representatives of the governments of Korea, Japan and China will be set up next month and given the task of tracing transboundary air pollution caused by China's rapid industrialization in the region.

The tri-partite working committee's secretariat will be housed in Seoul at the headquarters of the National Institute of Environmental Research (NIER) of Korea, the Environment Ministry said yesterday.

The group will consist of three specialists from each country and will coordinate joint research carried out by the three countries on measuring and modelling long-range transboundary air pollutant (LTP) phenomena.

Korean committee members will be the NIER chief researcher in charge of air pollution, the Environment Ministry section manager in charge of air pollution control policy and a senior researcher at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology.

Japan and China will also dispatch government officials, researchers and professors.

Two sub-working groups under it will discuss the monitoring of air contamination in the three countries facing the Yellow Sea and modeling of LTP data.

Exchanging data and engaging in three-way research, Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing will be able to take joint scientific steps to cut down on pollution in the three countries.

The working group comes into being on the initiative of Korea and Japan, which have come to the conclusion that a major source of the ever-worsening air pollution in the two countries is the consumption of fossil fuel in the rapidly-industrializing China.

The three parties agreed to establish the group during the Northwest Asian Workshop on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollutants held in Seoul last July.

``The formation of the committee and the launch of the Seoul-based secretariat will pave the way for research into LTP in the region, create a model for long-term and comprehensive investigative research in other areas, minimize the impact of air contamination on neighboring countries and result in access to data in preparation for discord between countries over air pollution,'' a ministry official in charge of the program said.

Factories in China generate 19.70 million tons of sulphur dioxide and 7.6 million tons of nitrogenic compound a year, 20 times and 9.3 times the amounts created in Korea respectively.

``Some research done in Korea and Japan so far has indicated that polluted air in China moves eastward over the Yellow Sea and arrives in the two countries, but to prove that this is in fact what is happening has been almost impossible due to China's reluctance to transfer its own environmental pollution data,'' he commented.