Govt: Smog lev­els lower than fore­cast

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By ZHENG JINRAN zhengjin­ran@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The se­vere smog blan­ket­ing north­ern re­gions, which cov­ered more than 750,000 square kilo­me­ters by Satur­day, wors­ened in sev­eral cities on Sun­day, al­though of­fi­cials have in­sisted that tough mea­sures to re­duce the pol­lu­tion have been ef­fec­tive.

Air qual­ity in­dex read­ings in Bei­jing, Tian­jin and cities in He­bei, Shan­dong, Shanxi and He­nan prov­inces be­gan to rise on Fri­day.

The worst lev­els over the week­end were recorded in Shi­ji­azhuang, the cap­i­tal of He­bei, where five mon­i­tor­ing sta­tions recorded an AQI of 500, the most haz­ardous level, as of 4 pm on Sun­day.

Due to the weather con­di­tions, which have made it hard for ac­cu­mu­lated pol­lu­tants to dis­perse, the smog is fore­cast to ease off slightly be­fore reach­ing an­other peak on Wed­nes­day, ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion.

Twenty-three cities on Satur­day is­sued red alerts. The mea­sure comes with strict re­stric­tions on in­dus­trial pro­duc­tion and ve­hi­cle use to cut emis­sions, and calls for the sus­pen­sion of work on con­struc­tion sites.

Sinopec Bei­jing Yan­shan Co, for ex­am­ple, a ma­jor dis­char- ger of pol­lu­tants, has been or­dered to re­duce pro­duc­tion by at least 30 per­cent.

The cen­tral and pro­vin­cial au­thor­i­ties have sent teams to con­duct field in­spec­tions and over­see the im­ple­men­ta­tion of air qual­ity con­trols, which the min­istry said has helped to cut emis­sions and slow down the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of pol­lu­tants.

“Pre­lim­i­nary es­ti­mates show the re­stric­tions have helped Bei­jing to re­duce pol­lu­tant emis­sions by about 33 per­cent and en­sure that the con­cen­tra­tion of PM2.5 re­mains at 20 per­cent (lower than fore­cast),” Fang Li, head of the cap­i­tal’s en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion bureau, said.

The min­istry said one-third of the 23 cities that is­sued red alerts have recorded smog lev­els be­low their ex­pec­ta­tions and added that the pol­lu­tion peak ar­rived later than fore­cast.

In­spec­tion teams have re­ported vi­o­la­tions, such as com­pa­nies il­le­gally dis­charg­ing ex­ces­sive lev­els of pol­lu­tants. Ac­cord­ing to pre­vi­ous warn­ings, of­fend­ers face fines and tem­po­rary or per­ma­nent sus­pen­sion, while se­vere cases could re­sult in the de­ten­tion of se­nior em­ploy­ees.

Liang Shuang con­trib­uted to this story.

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