Smog wave prompts factory curbs

Updated 2017-02-15 09:56:44 Global Times

Rules to affect heavy industries in, near Beijing

Regulators in the regions of China with the worst air pollution including Beijing, North China's Tianjin Municipality and Hebei Province will impose stricter limits this year on the production of iron and steel, chemicals and pharmaceutical products to curb smog, the Shanghai Securities News reported on Tuesday.

Iron and steel mills in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and its neighboring areas, where the pollution gauged by local air quality indexes has frequently gone off the scale, will be subject to tighter production restrictions, the report said, citing an internal draft of the Ministry of Environmental Protection's air pollution prevention plan for 2017.

According to the draft, electrolytic aluminum and chemical factories will be required to shift production to avoid peak hours, the report said. Pesticide and medicine manufacturers should halt production in winter, although local authorities can grant exceptions.

The document also outlined plans to cut steel and fertilizer capacity by at least half and aluminum capacity by at least 30 percent from around late November to late February, according to a Reuters report on Monday.

Transporting coal from the port of Tianjin will also be banned by the end of July, the report said. Instead, coal must be transported via the Tangshan-Zhangjiakou Railway, which connects to Tangshan Port in Hebei.

By the end of September, coal in Tianjin and Hebei will all be transported by railway. Diesel trains will be prohibited from carrying coal, according to the report.

The draft comes as a new round of smog engulfs the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. The pollution will also affect other parts of northeastern and eastern China, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Sunday.

On Monday, media reports said that Chinese cities that sit along three pollution "corridors"have been told to coordinate efforts to reduce emissions.

There are 20 cities that sit along three western, central and eastern routes on which airborne pollutants travel north due to geological and meteorological conditions, the report said, citing the Ministry of Environment.

Tackling emissions in cities such as Tangshan in Hebei will reduce the severity of air pollution in neighboring areas and help Beijing reach its ambitious target this year to reduce the daily concentration of PM2.5 - harmful breathable particles with a diameter of less than 2.5 microns - to 60 micrograms per cubic meter from 73 in 2016, it said.

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