Smog rolling in early; Hebei sets new target

Updated 2017-09-15 11:30:35 China Daily
An inspector checks the chimney of a canteen in Beijing last week after an automated monitoring system sent out an alert. The chimney was found without filters.

An inspector checks the chimney of a canteen in Beijing last week after an automated monitoring system sent out an alert. The chimney was found without filters.

PM2.5 concentration, number of heavily polluted days to be cut 15%

With smog hitting the northern regions before the weekend, Hebei province has vowed to take tough measures against air pollution, which is expected to be serious this winter.

The smog, which usually occurs in late autumn and winter, had already returned to the region by early September, and the governments of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei have moved to control it.

On Thursday, Hebei said that from Oct 1 to March 31 the average level of PM2.5 - particulate matter that poses health hazards - and the number of days of heavy smog in major cities would be cut by 15 percent year-on-year. The nationally significant Xiongan New Area, whose creation was announced in April, was told to cut by 20 percent.

The province imposed 40 tough, new measures to reduce emissions from sources including coal burning, vehicle exhaust, heavy industry and construction activity.

Around 1.8 million rural households will be equipped with natural gas and electrical facilities for heating and cooking by the end of October, replacing highly polluting coal.

"The tasks are very difficult, but we have to try everything to do that, otherwise the annual target cannot be reached," said Yin Guangping, deputy head of the province's environmental protection bureau.

The latest data from the Hebei Environmental Protection Bureau showed that the province's average level of PM2.5 in the air from January to August was 66 micrograms per cubic meter - 11.9 percent more than last year.

PM2.5 density decreased only in Chengde and Hengshui cities, while increasing sharply in 12 other cities in the province during the same period, far from its target of a 6 percent reduction.

Soaring PM2.5 levels were mainly caused by frequent windless weather and more production activities that discharged pollutants, said Xie Wenyong, deputy head of the bureau's atmospheric environment management division.

He said that strict measures imposed in the past to reduce emissions couldn't be implemented thoroughly because governments at the grassroots level tend to go easy on polluting companies.

To make sure the new measures are carried out thoroughly, the Hebei Environmental Law Enforcement Bureau sent out 30 teams across the province to supervise related government organs and companies.

Illegal activities will be stopped immediately and people involved in those activities will be punished harshly, said Liu Jia, an official at the bureau.

"If the measures are implemented to the maximum degree, air quality in the coming months will be better than last year," Yin said.

Xu Qin, governor of Hebei, vowed at a meeting on Wednesday that the government would "seize every minute to fight against pollution" and "try its best to reach the target".

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