Greenpeace challenges Shenhua Group over “water grab”
Greenpeace is taking on the might of China’s Shenhua Group, the world’s biggest coal producer by volume, with the publication of Thirsty Coal 2, a new report berating Shenhua’s open exploitation of water resources in Inner Mongolia. It is the first time that the global environmental campaigning organisation has challenged a state-owned enterprise in the country.
In the report 'Thirsty Coal 2', Greenpeace East Asia reveals that the Shenhua Group,is overexploiting groundwater and illegally dumping toxic industrial wastewater, highlighting the need to curb the country's burgeoning coal industry.
Shenhua's operations have sparked social unrest, Greenpeace maintains, as well as causing severe ecological damage including desertification, impacting farmers and herders who are facing reduced water supplies.
Greenpeace is alarmed by plans for an expansion of the Shenhua project and is therefore calling on the company to end the water grab and for the Chinese government to impose strict supervision and enforcement of the principles governing coal-to-chemical projects.
"Shenhua claims its coal-to-liquid project has ‘low water consumption’ and ‘zero discharge’. Our investigation proves these claims are false," Greenpeace East Asia campaigner Deng Ping said.
"Thousands of farmers and herders are being affected by Shenhua’s shameless exploitation of groundwater for profit. Shenhua’s practices are violating Chinese water resource principles and laws controlling industrial waste water discharge."
Since Shenhua's water extraction operations started in 2006, more than 50 million tonnes of groundwater have been extracted in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, leading to groundwater levels in the primarily agricultural and pastoral area falling by nearly 100 metres. The lake Subeinaoer has also shrunk by nearly two-thirds.
The report, based on 11 field trips to the Shenhua project from March to July 2013, can be accessed here.