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Beijing: Out goes pollution - then in it comes again!

Published by MAC on 2008-04-20




Olympics - Beijing Targets Top Polluters In Games Plan

PlanetArk CHINA

15th April 2008

BEIJING - Beijing will close factories and force 19 heavy polluters to reduce emissions by 30 percent for two months around the Olympics and Paralympics to improve air quality for athletes, a Beijing official said on Monday.

The measures, which will run from July 20 to Sept. 20, are an attempt to fulfil the city's commitment to provide clean air for the Games, said Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau spokesman Du Shaozhong.

"In case of extremely negative meteorological conditions or severe air quality, we will take even more stringent measures," Du told a news conference. "As for exactly what we will do, that will depend on the conditions at the time."

Du said further measures would be taken in neighbouring Tianjin, Hebei, Inner Mongolia, Shanxi and Shandong, while details of the traffic restrictions aimed at taking half the city's cars off the roads would be released later.

Government and plant officials in the other provinces have in the past said they have not received notice of specific closure plans. The extent of the shutdowns will determine in part how much the Olympics will impact China's economy.

"It remains to be seen whether production or consumption will be affected more" by shutdowns, including that of copper cable producers in the Beijing area, Edward Meir, metals analyst with MF Global, wrote earlier this month.

Among the 19 polluters are several plants run by Shougang Steel -- the city's worst offender -- as well as Yanshan Petrochemical Group, Jingneng Thermal power company and three other coal-burning plants, and Number 27 Locomotive Factory.

The Eastern Chemical Plant of Beijing will be closed for the whole two months and companies involved in cement manufacture and quarrying in the South-west of the city will also be shut down.

Industrial coal-boilers that fail to meet emission standards -- the toughest in the world, Du said -- will be closed as will petrol stations and oil depots if they have not made sufficient strides to restrict the emission of petrol vapours.

Any construction projects not scheduled to have completed excavations and concrete placement as well as site "greening and coverage" by July 20 will not be allowed to start work.

Du said the long-term work for reducing emissions was to the benefit of the companies and any compensation will be decided when they discuss their annual plans with local government.

"In the short-term it will cost them, in the longer term it will accelerate the upgrade of their technology," he said. "We do not deny the contribution these companies are making during the Olympics by reducing emissions and cutting or suspending production."

Companies that shut down or restrict production for the two months would be exempt from pollution emission charges, Du added.

Story by Nick Mulvenney

REUTERS NEWS SERVICE

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