China Starts New Year With More Smog
nsnbc : China’s northern cities of Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei and Henan as well as cities in the center of China, and their residents, continue to struggle with smog. Smog alerts and measures to limit the smog will remain in place until January 5. Beijing has taken the unprecedented step to publish the fines that the owners of some 605 coal-fired power plants have been fined for overstepping environmental regulations while cashing in on “green subsidies”.
The use of highly polluting vehicles and construction transportation trucks has been forbidden while some manufacturing factories have been forced to reduce their production levels. The orange alert means that the air quality index shows that levels of nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere will exceed 200 micrograms per cubic meter for three days in a row.
In Henan classes were suspended in nurseries and primary and secondary schools this Friday. Eight cities, including Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei, are on a red alert and restrictions have been placed on traffic and industrial discharges have been reduced by 40 percent. The World Health Organization states that exposure for more than 24 hours to harmful concentrations of more than 25 micrograms per cubic meter of nitrogen dioxide is damaging to health.
During the last days of December 2016 China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) took the unprecedented step to publish the fines that owners / operators of some 605 coal-fired power plants had been slammed with. A subsidiary of China’s power giant Shenhua Group was fined 52.14 million yuan and a plant controlled by China Guodian Corporation had to pay 7.73 million yuan, reported the NDRC.
The NDRC has fined companies behind power plants before, but it is the first time that the Commission published the size of the penalties. The unprecedented publication of the fines comes a little more than one week after heavy smog ground parts of China to a halt.
By then, more than 24 cities had been ordered to cancel classes in elementary and high schools, after a red alert was declared. Liaoning province experienced its most severe air pollution in seven years. 18 highways had to be closed down due to “poor visibility”. Tianjin airport suspended services over the weekend, leading to a total of 29 deferred flights and 350 canceled flights last night. All highways in the municipality were closed.
The Beijing municipal environmental protection bureau introduced a number of pollution reduction measures, including restrictions on car traffic, factory closures and shutdowns to help reduce pollutant emissions of PM2.5 particles by more than 20 percent. China has a warning system for extreme weather conditions with red being the most severe, followed by orange, yellow and blue.
In 2014, China, the world’s biggest consumer of coal, raised the price it pays for electricity from plants that have installed expensive equipment to cut the emission of pollutants in a bid to improve China’s air quality.
For example, the price of electricity from plants that remove sulfur from their emissions is 0.015 yuan higher than the normal price per kilowatt-hour (KWh) for electricity. According to NDRC data, 99 percent of coal-fired plants had equipment to remove sulfur in 2015, up from 83 percent in 2010, while 92 percent of them had facilities to prevent nitrogen oxide being emitted, up from 12 percent five years earlier.
The state planner, together with Ministry of Environmental Protection, inspected 759 plants in the second half of 2016, and 605 were apparently “busted” for violating regulations.
F/AK – nsnbc 02.01.2017