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46 Polluting Thermal Power Plants Blacklisted
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On Thursday, the national environmental regulator announced a list of 46 thermal power plants that they say pose a threat to the environment because they lack desulfurization equipment.

The plants, mostly located in Shandong, Henan and Shanxi provinces, are among 137 projects that had previously been identified as requiring desulfurization facilities in acid rain and sulfur dioxide control regions, said a statement issued by the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA).

These control regions cover 1.09 million sq km and are inhabited by 39 percent of the country's population.

An SEPA official said desulfurization equipment should have been up and running by the end of 2005 according to regulations. However, construction on the projects has not even begun.

"If the pollutants discharged by thermal power plants are not effectively checked, the country's air pollution problem will worsen," he said.

Thermal power plants, mostly fueled by coal, are major air polluters in China. According to the SEPA, they discharged 11 million tons of sulfur dioxide in 2003, accounting for more than 50 percent of total emissions. 

Sulfur dioxide emissions are expected to reach more than 21 million tons by 2020 if not effectively curbed.

"Urgent measures must be taken to check the discharge of sulfur dioxide and desulfurization equipment must be installed in thermal power plants," said the official, vowing that the SEPA will punish those who contravene the country's environmental laws and regulations.

The move marked another major step by the SEPA to curb excessive construction of power plants.

On January 18, they ordered a halt in construction of 30 large projects that failed to meet environmental standards. Twenty-six were hydropower stations, thermal power plants and other energy projects, including two in the Three Gorges area.

The environmental administration announced on Monday that work on 22 of the targeted projects had been frozen, but there was no information on what would happen with the remaining eight.

The SEPA pledged to sharpen its teeth and take concrete action in fighting environmental degradation in the country.
(Xinhua News Agency January 28, 2005)

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