April 11, 2018 / 10:40 AM / 3 months ago

China's Xuzhou begins environmental checks to meet 2018 clean air targets

BEIJING (Reuters) - The Chinese city of Xuzhou is carrying out environmental inspections targeting air pollution emissions at industrial plants, construction sites and in the transportation sector that are expected to last for as long as six months.

FILE PHOTO: People walk on the road leading to the Badaling section of the Great Wall on a hazy day in Yanqing district in Beijing, China February 27, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

The inspections started on April 9 and will be conducted until the end of September and could be prolonged if necessary, an official at the city’s environmental bureau told Reuters by phone on Wednesday.

The official declined to give his name as he is not authorized to talk to media.

“The inspection is to cooperate with the 2018 air pollution action plan and can run up to one year, but it will depend on how the situation goes,” he said.

Xuzhou is a steel producing city in the eastern province of Jiangsu, China’s second-biggest steel producing province after Hebei.

The city plans to cap the emissions of the pollutant nitrogen oxide at 100 microgram per cubic meter at city’s sintering and pelleting plants by the end of September, according to Xuzhou’s 2018 air pollution action plan issued by the city authorities dated April 8.

The action plan also targets installing dust collection equipment at blast furnaces by the end of July and desulfurisation equipment for pelleting processing units at all steel mills by the end of October.

All mills that fail to meet the targets on time will be shut down, according to the plan.

Xuzhou has an annual steelmaking capacity of about 13 million tonnes of crude steel capacity from a number of small mills, according to consultancy Wood Mackenzie, indicating these small firms would be more vulnerable to stricter pollution measures.

The new restrictions followed an increase in the concentration of particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 microns, or PM2.5, pollutants that can lodge deep in the lungs. The city’s PM2.5 concentrations rose 10 percent to 66 micrograms per cubic meter in 2017, below the national target of a reduction of 20 percent compared to the prior year.

The 2018 target of PM2.5 in Xuzhou is below 60 micrograms per cubic meter.

In the first quarter this year, air quality in Xuzhou ranked at the bottom of 13 cities in Jiangsu province, with average PM2.5 level reaching 109 micrograms per cubic meter.

Reporting by Muyu Xu and Josephine Mason

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