China's Ministry of Environmental Protection has refused to release the full results of a four-year soil study, saying they are a "state secret." The study ended in 2010, but three years later, the report is still unpublished.
The secrecy claim was made in a letter to Beijing lawyer, Dong Zhengwei. He asked for the report out of concerns that soil pollution could be a public health danger. He says the ministry has no reason to keep the results a secret but suspects that they must be poor, or there would be no reason to hide them.
[Dong Zhengwei, Beijing Lawyer]:
"The "state secret" law in china is loosely defined, the authorities can arbitrarily make something a "state secret", and this is a defect in our legal system...also, under current transparency laws, environmental protection information, especially on soil quality, should not be classified as state secrets."
After years of denying the extent of air and water pollution, the Chinese regime has begun to admit to the severity of both, but only after it became too visible to ignore.
Now soil quality has come under the spotlight, as the government acknowledged the phenomena of "cancer villages" last week. These villages have cancer rates well above average, largely because of soil and water pollution by industrial chemicals. State media says there could be well over 200 of these villages in China.
Unlike water or air, the quality of soil cannot be easily detected. Dong says that there may be some initial panic, but releasing the results of the study by far outweighs any upheaval it may cause.
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