Ce­ment fac­to­ries de­mol­ished to clean air

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By ZHENG JINRAN in Shi­ji­azhuang zhengjin­ran@chi­nadaily.com.cn

In its lat­est move to bat­tle air pol­lu­tion, Shi­ji­azhuang, cap­i­tal of He­bei prov­ince, be­gan the de­mo­li­tion of its first batch of 18 ce­ment plants on Tues­day.

Sev­enty-four plants in the Shi­ji­azhuang sub­urbs are tar­geted for de­struc­tion by March. The de­mo­li­tion will even­tu­ally ex­pand to all western ar­eas of Shi­ji­azhuang by 2017.

“The ce­ment com­pa­nies have been a ma­jor source of dust pol­lu­tion, mak­ing them a pri­or­ity for de­mo­li­tion,” said Niu Yongzhi, the of­fi­cial from the Bureau of In­dus­try and In­for­ma­tion in Shi­ji­azhuang who is in charge of the project.

In the first round, the pro­duc­tion and stor­age fa­cil­i­ties of three plants were blasted by ex­plo­sives, while oth­ers were bull­dozed by heavy trac­tors. All 18 de­mo­li­tions are ex­pected to be fin­ished next month.

Re­moval of th­ese ce­ment op­er­a­tions will re­duce dust by 38.25 mil­lion met­ric tons per year.

Emis­sions of ni­tro­gen ox­ides — which come from the burn­ing of coal in the pro­duc­tion process — are ex­pected to drop by 3.38 mil­lion tons, sav­ing 150,000 tons of coal, ac­cord­ing to a doc­u­ment re­leased by the bureau.

“It will help im­prove the air qual­ity, but it’s just the be­gin­ning,” Niu said, adding that all the ce­ment plants along the Xibaipo Ex­press­way are marked for de­mo­li­tion.

Yang Li, 29, who lives near a ce­ment plant that is be­ing de­mol­ished in Yi’an county, Luquan, said, “It may not make an in­stant im­prove­ment in air qual­ity, but it’s def­i­nitely a good move for our lungs and health.”

Her fam­ily planted veg­eta­bles in a nearby field, and the crops were al­ways cov­ered with dust, she said.

The ce­ment plant clo­sures do not come with­out an eco­nomic cost, how­ever.

“The city picked the 18 com­pa­nies with fewest em­ploy­ment is­sues first,” said Niu. He said most of the work­ers were part-timers from nearby vil­lages.

More than 3,500 work­ers from the 18 plants will have to find other ways to sup­port their fam­i­lies.

“We will en­cour­age our work­ers to find new jobs first, but if they fail or in­sist on

It will help im­prove the air qual­ity, but it’s just the be­gin­ning.” NIU YONGZHI OF­FI­CIAL FROM THE BUREAU OF IN­DUS­TRY AND IN­FOR­MA­TION OF SHI­JI­AZHUANG

stay­ing, we will ar­range work at our other branch com­pa­nies or with new projects in the fu­ture,” said Feng Jin­min, a man­ager at Jinyu Dingx­ing Ce­ment Co.

Two of Jinyu’s plants will be de­mol­ished. The two plants made prof­its of 30 mil­lion yuan ($4.9 mil­lion) an­nu­ally. The gov­ern­ment must also pay com­pen­sa­tion to the com­pa­nies whose plants are be­ing shut down.

Seven plants in Ping­shan county will re­ceive an av­er­age of 9 mil­lion yuan each, and pref­er­en­tial poli­cies, in­clud­ing tax re­duc­tion, will be given to them when they start other busi­nesses.

“We en­cour­age them to start com­pa­nies in­volv­ing tech­nol­ogy or other zero-pol­lu­tion in­dus­tries,” said Fan Shix­iong, head of the Bureau of In­dus­try and In­for­ma­tion in Ping­shan county.

The other 11 plants, lo­cated in Luquan will see sim­i­lar com­pen­sa­tion, said Zhang Zhenping, Fan’s coun­ter­part in Luquan.

The 18 plants, scat­tered through­out the north­west­ern area of Shi­ji­azhuang, pro­duced 9.4 mil­lion tons of ce­ment an­nu­ally, ac­count­ing for 20.8 per­cent of the city’s an­nual out­put.

“We un­der­stand the huge cost of th­ese de­mo­li­tions, but it’s nec­es­sary for the im­prove­ment of air qual­ity and for op­ti­miz­ing the eco­nomic struc­ture,” Zhang said.

To con­trol se­ri­ous air pol­lu­tion in He­bei, the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment has en­acted strict mea­sures de­signed to re­duce air­borne par­ti­cles. The ce­ment in­dus­try has been a ma­jor con­trib­u­tor.

By 2014, ce­ment pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity in He­bei will be re­duced by 61 mil­lion tons, the equiv­a­lent of 50 per­cent of the prov­ince’s to­tal ce­ment pro­duc­tion in 2012. Zhao Zhiyue con­trib­uted to this story.

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