May 10, 2018 / 9:53 AM / a year ago

China's Shijiazhuang to take air pollution fight to crematoriums, public toilets

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s northern city of Shijiazhuang will take aim at everything from coal-fired power plants to crematoriums and even public toilets in its latest effort to fix its notorious pollution problem, the city government said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: Residents on their bicycles and electric bikes wait for the traffic at an intersection amid heavy smog in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, China, December 10, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei province, which surrounds the Beijing metropolitan region, has given all 52 crematoriums in the city until the end of October to replace or upgrade their furnaces to ensure they meet emission standards, the government said in a statement on its website.

Furnaces at chemical, steel, non-ferrous metal and coking factories have to install ultra-low emission equipment by the same date.

The moves are among 44 measures outlined in a 2018 action plan released by the city government that targets emissions from industries such as transportation, construction and open-pit mining.

But pollution sources from residential activities are also being marked, with Shijiazhuang banning outdoor barbecues and the sale of fireworks. It has also pledged action against “foul-smelling” air emitted from rubbish transfer stations and public toilets.

The smog-prone city aims to cuts its concentration of particulate matter that is smaller than 2.5 microns, hazardous airborne pollutants known as PM2.5, to 74 micrograms per cubic meter in 2018, down 14 percent from 2017.

PM2.5 pollution is considered especially hazardous since the particles can lodge deep inside the lungs.

Shijiazhuang achieved a 13.7 percent drop in PM2.5 levels last year but still ranked seventh from the bottom of 365 cities nationwide, according to data compiled by Greenpeace.

In March, Hebei set up a “punishment and reward system” designed to give incentives for local cities to improve air quality.

Shijiazhuang said it will also launch a punishment system to push local authorities to adopt “iron-fisted pollution-control measures”.

It also asked industrial companies to be ready to adopt capacity restriction measures in the coming winter, but detailed plan will be published after September.

Reporting by Muyu Xu and Tom Daly; Editing by Christian Schmollinger

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