He­bei is­sues red pol­lu­tion alert

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By ZHANG YU zhangyu1@chi­nadaily.com.cn

He­bei prov­ince on Thurs­day is­sued this year’s first red alert for a three-day bout of se­vere air pol­lu­tion.

The pol­lu­tion is forecast to last from Fri­day to Sun­day in eight ci­ties, ac­cord­ing to a no­tice re­leased by the prov­ince’s Air Pol­lu­tion Pre­ven­tion and Con­trol Of­fice.

A red alert is the most se­ri­ous level for air pol­lu­tion in a four-tier warn­ing sys­tem, fol­lowed by orange, yel­low and blue. It is is­sued when the city’s Air Qual­ity In­dex is pre­dicted to reach 500.

In re­sponse to the alert, ci­ties will sus­pend some pol­lut­ing op­er­a­tions to cut in­dus­trial pol­lu­tion by at least 40 per­cent, and all con­struc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties must be sus­pended, ac­cord­ing to the He­bei En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Bureau.

Schools, es­pe­cially kinder­gartens and pri­mary schools, could sus­pend classes or give dis­tance ed­u­ca­tion dur­ing the pe­riod.

The prov­ince’s eight big ci­ties — Shi­ji­azhuang, Baod­ing, Lang­fang, Xing­tai, Heng­shui, Han­dan, Dingzhou and Xinji — are of­ten on the list of the 10 ci­ties with the worst air qual­ity in China. They are clas­si­fied as Re­gion One, which is of­ten shrouded by heavy smog in win­ter.

Shi­ji­azhuang, cap­i­tal of He­bei, has suf­fered the most this year. It launched a cam­paign to fight pol­lu­tion in the mid­dle of last month, en­forc­ing the most strict emis­sion con­trol mea­sures.

All pol­lut­ing com­pa­nies in the city were shut and half of all ve­hi­cles on the roads were re­moved each day based on odd and even li­cense plate num­bers.

The cam­paign will last un­til the end of the year, dur­ing which time, the pub­lic may use buses free of charge.

As of Wed­nes­day, eight out of 13 ci­ties in the prov­ince had taken sim­i­lar mea­sures to cope with se­vere smog.

He­bei’s ad­ja­cent city Bei­jing is­sued an orange alert on Thurs­day morn­ing, fore­cast­ing that the city would also be hit by se­vere air pol­lu­tion from Fri­day to Sun­day, ac­cord­ing to the Bei­jing Mu­nic­i­pal En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Bureau.

The bureau said air qual­ity in the cap­i­tal will im­prove when a cold front ar­rives on Sun­day night.

Emer­gency mea­sures to cope with air pol­lu­tion will be taken in Bei­jing from Fri­day.

“De­spite the mea­sures, the air qual­ity did not im­prove,” said Liu Jinke, who lives in Shi­ji­azhuang and rides a bi­cy­cle to work.

“Gov­ern­ments con­tinue to make ef­forts to re­duce emis­sions, but smog can­not be turned into blue skies overnight, it’s a long-term bat­tle,” said Wang Wei, a pro­fes­sor at He­bei Nor­mal Univer­sity’s School of Re­sources and En­vi­ron­men­tal Sciences in Shi­ji­azhuang.

Smog can­not be turned into blue skies overnight, it’s a long-term bat­tle.” Wang Wei, pro­fes­sor at He­bei Nor­mal Univer­sity’s School of Re­sources and En­vi­ron­men­tal Sciences

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