October 10, 2018 / 10:29 AM / 13 days ago

China's Yangtze River Delta mulls winter production curbs - sources

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China’s eastern region of Yangtze River Delta is working on a new integrated winter pollution plan similar to the one in the country’s northern areas, officials of two local environment bureaus in the region told Reuters.

A worker collects garbage left on the bank of Yangtze River after floodwaters receded in Chongqing, China July 17, 2018. Picture taken July 17, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. CHINA OUT.

The plan - covering 41 cities across Shanghai, the manufacturing hubs of Jiangsu and Zhejiang and Anhui province - aims to reduce toxic emissions in the region during winter when air quality could worsen.

The region has been trying to take a more coordinated approach to economic development and environmental protection amid concerns that intense competition between the provinces was causing waste, pollution and “duplicated” development.

Led by the Shanghai government, the draft plan was made by a regional anti-pollution working group supervised by the central environmental watchdog, according to officials from the Shanghai and Zhejiang environmental bureaus who spoke on condition of anonymity. They declined to give further details.

According to a draft plan published by a Chinese industrial consultancy, the cities in the Yangtze River Delta region will be asked to cut average concentrations of hazardous floating particles, known as PM2.5, by around 5 percent between October this year and March 2019 compared with the same period last year.

The plan will also order local authorities to phase out 304 polluting companies in steel, chemicals, non-ferrous and construction materials sectors, and impose production restrictions on heavy industry from November to February next year in cities that saw PM2.5 readings above 70 micrograms per cubic meter during last winter.

Reuters could not independently verify the details of the draft plan.

Eight cities in Anhui province and two cities in Jiangsu province, including major steelmaking hub Xuzhou, exceeded the 70-microgram limit, according to Chinese government data.

China’s official urban air quality standard is 35 micrograms, but the World Health Organization recommends levels of no more than 10 micrograms.

The smog-prone Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei and its nearby region in northern China - comprising 28 cities - have been enforcing industrial output curbs since last year. For this winter, local authorities aim to cut PM2.5 by 3 percent from last year’s levels.

The Ministry of Ecology and Environment is scheduled to carry out inspections in Yangtze River Delta region from Nov. 12 to April 28, 2019.

Reporting by Muyu Xu in Beijing and David Stanway in Shanghai; Editing by Manolo Serapio Jr.

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