Riverfront factories are posing a grave danger, study finds Fears over water safety in the Pearl River Delta have been raised by environmental experts in Guangdong after a government study found most of the province's petrochemical factories are too close to rivers. More than 70 per cent of the 18,300 petrochemical factories in Guangdong are built along rivers in the Pearl River Delta, says a Guangdong Environmental Protection Bureau report. There are also 6,000 other kinds of factories which on average produce more than 100 tonnes of chemical waste a year, it said. The report said these factories posed a grave threat to water safety in the Pearl River Delta and the situation was 'very critical'. The government study was conducted after a chemical spill in the Beijiang, or North River, last December. The incident, said to be the most serious case of water pollution in Guangdong, threatened to cut water supplies to millions in downstream cities including Yingde , Qingyuan , Foshan and Guangzhou. Guangdong reported 32 water pollution cases last year, and deterioration of the environment had become increasingly serious in recent years, the bureau said. The pollution had not only endangered fragile ecosystems but also led to disputes and confrontations between residents and the factories. The mainland has set up an official institute to provide scientific assessments on damage caused by environmental accidents. The Environmental Damage Evaluation Centre, formed last month, will provide reliable information for courts and government departments in processing lawsuits triggered by environmental pollution, the China Environmental News said yesterday. The report said lawsuits over pollution-related damage had risen rapidly in recent years.