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SEPA Releases Air Quality Blacklist

The State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) released the names of the 113 most polluted cities in the country on Tuesday, according to Thursday's China Daily.

The publication of the list is part of SEPA's efforts to improve air quality across the country.

North China's Shanxi Province, well known for its coal industry, had the dubious honor of claiming the top three spots on the 2003 blacklist with Linfen, Yangquan and Datong.

Beijing, despite substantial improvements to air quality in recent years, was still listed at number 28.

Shi Hanmin, head of the city's environmental protection authority, said Beijing's goal is to have 80 percent fairly good to excellent air quality days a year by 2008. However, existing pollution control methods and the sheer size of the capital have so far kept such days below 60 percent.

SEPA's "dirty city" list was released as part of its 2003 report on management and comprehensive improvement in environmental protection. The report, which covers key cities, is delivered annually.

"These cities must step up efforts to improve air quality," said Wang Jirong, SEPA's deputy director.

Areas with increasing concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the air, including Nanjing, Guangzhou and Xi'an, were advised to develop pollution reduction plans, she said.

Although overall environmental quality has improved steadily in the past year, Wang said, environmental infrastructure in 47 key cities has to be strengthened. Several provincial capitals, including Changchun in northeast China's Jilin Province and Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province, have poor sewage disposal systems and others are struggling with residential waste.

Those with most advanced environmental infrastructure are Dalian, Yantai, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Haikou, all of which are coastal cities.

The top five environmentally friendly cities are all in south China.

Forested areas grew 0.7 percent nationwide in 2003, faster than in 2002, according to the report.

Average environmental investment rose 0.1 percent and accounted for 2.4 percent of GDP.

SEPA began to test the environment in cities around the country in 1989. The inspection includes such items as pollution reduction, infrastructure construction and environmental management. So far, 608 cities, or 91 percent of the country's total, have been checked.

Worst Air Quality
Linfen, Shanxi Province
Yangquan, Shanxi Province
Datong, Shanxi Province
Shizuishan, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region
Sanmenxia, Henan Province
Jinchang, Gansu Province
Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province
Xianyang, Shaanxi Province
Zhuzhou, Hunan Province
Luoyang, Henan Province

Most Environmentally Friendly
Haikou, Hainan Province
Zhuhai, Guangdong Province
Zhanjiang, Guangdong Province
Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region
Beihai, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region

Most Effective Pollution Controls
Nantong, Jiangsu Province
Lianyuangang, Jiangsu Province
Shenyang, Liaoning Province
Suzhou, Jiangsu Province
Fuzhou, Fujian Province

(China Daily July 15, 2004)

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