Small factories face anti-smog scrutiny

By ZHENG JINRAN | China Daily | Updated: 2017-01-07 04:42

Stricter measures will be taken to monitor emissions and punish violators as the government tries to reduce pollutants from small factories in northern parts of the country, Chen Jining, minister of environmental protection, said on Friday.

Large enterprises in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region have been put under environmental supervision, which, as a result, has seen their emissions decline sharply.

However, many small factories are continuing to discharge pollutants, which are partly to blame for the severe smog that has covered most parts of North China in recent days.

It is a challenge for environmental authorities to reduce emissions from those small but highly polluting factories in the region, Chen added. 

“We have now put these small polluting factories on our priority list of supervision,” he said. 

By Friday, 31 cities in northern and central parts of the country had been put under red alert, the highest level, amid almost a week of heavy smog, which is forecast to ease starting on Sunday. 

Measures to reduce the pollution include suspending industrial production and activities at construction sites and limiting the number of vehicles on roads. 

But inspectors sent by the ministry and local governments have discovered many cases of violation, especially by small factories in Hebei, Henan and Shandong provinces that continue to ignore production restrictions. 

For example, Yusheng, a building material company in Hebi, Henan province, used its own power generator to restart production after the local government cut its power supply as part of a restrictive move. 

The violators will be punished in accordance with the upper limit of punishments, the ministry said. 

Chen said these small factories are pursuing profits in disregard of environmental rules, and they can easily restart production without government notice, since environmental authorities are often short of staff.

The authorities will use more remote-sensing and other technologies to cover larger areas, and they encourage the public to report violations by polluting companies to environmental officials. 

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