Ministry to begin inspecting most heavily polluted regions
Updated: 2013-10-25 00:48
By Wu Wencong (China Daily)
Consumers inquire about air purifiers at a Beijing store. With air pollution drawing widespread concern, the Environmental Protection Ministry said on Thursday inspection teams will be sent to some regions to ensure strict compliance with countermeasures. Cao Boyuan / For China Daily
The Environmental Protection Ministry announced on Thursday it has begun a six-month campaign targeting the most heavily polluted regions.
The ministry said the campaign, which will begin this month and end in March, will ensure that local governments and enterprises are abiding by regulations implemented on Sept 12 to tackle airborne pollution.
The campaign will primarily involve inspections of regions with the most smog, including the geographic cluster of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province, the Yangtze River Delta region, the Pearl River Delta region, and central Liaoning province.
Ministry officials and environmental authorities at local government levels will conduct the investigations, inspecting every sector that could influence air quality within the regions.
They will check whether major industries have added filters to their equipment as required, if the amount of discharged pollutants is within limits, whether factories and restaurants are taking effective measures to prevent dust and cooking fumes from polluting the air, and whether local governments have taken measures to shut down polluting enterprises and remove old vehicles from roads.
Authorities plan on varying inspections, from routine checkups, secret investigations and scans during the night to inspections during the holidays, according to an official from the ministry who asked not to be named.
The official said provincial environmental departments should suspend their approvals of city or county projects if city or county-level officials are not carrying out their inspections, punishing polluters as required and publicizing the names of enterprises violating regulations.
He said all levels of environmental protection departments should establish special funds to reward residents who successfully report illegal acts by local enterprises.
Officials from the ministry will also lead a special inspection team to the Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province cluster to deal with the smog that may be exacerbated when coal-fueled furnaces fire up residential heaters in November. The team will then report its findings.
"Governments in the cluster should get prepared for potential smog this winter and take all measures possible, including controlling coal consumption, banning heavily polluting enterprises and easing traffic to prevent the pollution from getting too severe," said Chai Fahe, deputy head of the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences.
Chai said many of the industries that are polluting the air should be halted in the region.
On Wednesday, officials from six provinces and municipalities and seven ministries gathered in Beijing to discuss how to prevent and control airborne pollution in the Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province region this winter.
It was the third meeting in two months to discuss regional air pollution, with top local officials presenting efforts each province, municipality and autonomous region will make to cut down on the smog.
The smog in Northeast China from Saturday until Thursday was moderate, with Liaoning province reporting readings of PM2.5 — airborne particles measuring less than 2.5 microns in diameter — below 80 in all of its cities.
Northeast of Liaoning province, residents in Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces are still suffering from light to medium pollution, but PM2.5 readings in most areas in these two provinces have dropped to below 200.
The environmental protection bureau in Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province, recently posted an announcement on its website, pledging to continue improving pollution control measures and to conduct research of the smog to prepare for future pollution. Thick smog enveloped the city on Monday, reducing visibility to below 10 meters in some areas.
Cities in Northeast China began lifting their warnings for smog and haze on Thursday as the pollution gradually moves southwest to parts of Hunan, Hubei, Guizhou and Sichuan provinces, according to the National Meteorological Center of China Meteorological Administration as of 6 pm on Thursday.