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New Rules to Clear Shanghai Sky

Local environmental regulations that go into effect today prohibit the building of power plants that burn coal, prevent new restaurants from opening in residential communities, and restrict car owners from buying vehicles that don't meet emission standards, as Shanghai strives to further improve its air quality.

The new regulations complement national laws adopted in September which provided a framework for fighting air pollution, but lacked detailed provisions, according to Hong Hao, chief of the Shanghai Environment Protection Bureau.

"The new rules put more pressure on us," said Hong, noting that residents can now take legal action against the offending businesses and the bureau itself in case there is a violation of the regulation.

While the city has made many efforts to improve air quality in the past, the situation still needs much work.

The regulation forbids new construction of coal-fired power plants and requires power plants and factories that burn coal as their main fuel to install equipment to control discharges of sulfur dioxide.

Within the Inner Ring Road, furnaces that pose a risk to air quality must be shut down or converted to cleaner fuel, according to the new rules.

Another primary pollution source comes from vehicle exhaust. The worst offenders are older buses and taxis that choke the city with black smoke and lace the atmosphere with toxic vapors. Shanghai now has 1.2 million vehicles and motorcycles, and that figure grows by 10 percent to 15 percent every year, said Wang Jimin, director of the city traffic patrol police team.

"License plates will not be issued to new vehicles failing to meet European emission standards, and we plan to check cars emitting black smoke," said Wang.

So far, 32,000 taxis and 330 buses in Shanghai are using cleaner fuels - liquefied petroleum gas and compressed natural gas.

An additional 1,500 taxies and 18,000 buses will switch to cleaner fuels over the next five years, said Bian Baiping, vice director of the Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Public Transport.

By 2004, all ships sailing in local waterways also will be forced to meet emission standards, he added.

(eastday.com January 1, 2002)

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