Air in Shanghai improved in 2016
SHANGHAI had the cleanest air in six years last year, the environmental authority said recently.
The Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau said the average density of Shanghai’s major air pollutant tiny particle PM2.5 was 45 micrograms per cubic meter in 2016 — a 15 percent decrease from 53 micrograms per cubic meter in 2015.
It also meant that Shanghai took only four years to complete its five-year plan of cutting PM2.5 density 20 percent from 2013’s 62 micrograms per cubic meter.
“Shanghai’s air quality has been greatly improved in 2016,” said Zhou Jun, deputy director of the bureau’s pollution control division.
“Our next goal is to decrease the average density of PM2.5 to 42 micrograms per cubic meter by 2020.”
Apart from PM2.5, the average density of other major air pollutants also saw a drop in the past year.
SO2 (sulfur dioxide), PM10 and NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) fell 11.8 percent, 14.5 percent and 6.5 percent respectively compared to the year before.
According to Li Li, director of the Shanghai Academy of Environmental Sciences Atmospheric Environment Institute, the reduction in coal burning contributed to the cut in SO2 and PM10.
“The main cause of SO2 and PM10 in Shanghai was coal burning,” said Li. “Cleaner energy like natural gas has been promoted in the city to replace coal, while NO2 is produced in oil burning and car emission.”
The air quality in 75.4 percent days of 2016 was rated as excellent or good — with an air quality index no higher than 100 — a 4.7 percent increase from 2015.
Ninety days were rated polluted, including 19 days of moderate pollution (AQI between 151-200) and two days heavy pollution (201-300). In 2015, 107 days had been reported as polluted.
Apart from continuing with anti-air pollution measures, the environment authority is making detailed plans to improve the city’s water quality.
The environment bureau said there are about 631 kilometers of smelly and polluted rivers in Shanghai, mainly in suburban districts.
“We are making tailored cleaning plans for 471 small and medium rivers around Shanghai,” said Zheng Kai, an official with bureau’s Aquatic Environment Division.
“The goal is to make black and smelly rivers disappear from Shanghai by the end of 2017.”
Zheng said punishments against enterprises illegally discharging waste into rivers will be strengthened this year.
The Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau’s enforcement team reported 3,317 environmental law and regulation violations in 2016 and a collected fines of 251 million yuan (US$ 36.2 million) — up 28 percent and 45 percent from 2015.
Eleven violators who did not make required corrections received added daily fines.
Zhou Hu, vice captain of the enforcement team, most cases involved illegal discharge of waste water, gas, solid wastes and noise pollution.
The law enforcement against illegal volatile organic compounds discharge has been a major task for the team in the past year. They accounted for 60 percent of gas discharge cases last year.
Shanghai eliminated 53,000 heavy polluting vehicles in the past year, as well as 5,800 unlicensed or heavy polluting companies and 2,720 livestock farms.
About 1,456 industrial enterprises upgraded their VOC discharge facilities to avoid open-air discharge.
The bureau said more adjustments will be made this year to continue improving the environment, as well as promoting cleaner and low-sulphur fuel for boats.
Typically, winter is the worst time for pollution. The Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau said some enterprises would be advised to adjust their manufacturing plans, such as suspending operation during winter.