Vehicle Emissions Under Scrutiny

Traffic police and environment supervisors this week will launch a major check of taxis, buses and other vehicles belching black smoke laced with vapors that threaten public health.

For the first time, officials will seize the vehicle's license and force taxi and bus firms to repair the exhaust systems before the vehicles are allowed back on the road, officials said.

Police will allow the buses to take passengers to the terminal before grounding the vehicles.

"We plan to cooperate with the traffic control department in this first-time fight against violators," said Wang Shengde, vice director of the city Pollution Control Office under the Municipal Bureau of Environment Protection.

"We have only been fining drivers 20 yuan (US$2.40) when their emissions fail to meet national standards, and then letting them go," he added. "Actually, the vehicles still pose a risk to local air quality."

Garages expect a windfall from vehicles needing quick repairs. But if vehicles fail a second check, the repairmen will have to pay the bureau a fee for the quality examination, and also repair the vehicles again for free.

The move against pollution comes at a crucial time in the city's development. The number of vehicles, now 600,000, is growing 10 percent to 15 percent yearly.

The city's other main polluter, industrial smokestacks, will no longer choke the air by the end of next year.

According to a new guideline that went into effect on September 1, the city has to switch from coal-based fuels to cleaner energy, such as natural gas. Coal now accounts for 68 percent of local energy use. Half of the city's consumption of 39 million tons of coal a year is burned at electricity-generating plants.

The bureau wants clean fuel used at all industrial boilers inside Inner Ring Road that now burn 4 tons of coals a day. In January, it prohibited the construction of coal furnaces.

"We dismantled 344 coal-using boilers in September, and 415 furnaces have changed their fuel," said Wang. He said the west bank of the Huangpu River will soon follow the lead of Pudong, where 300,000 homes will switch to natural gas this year. By year's end, two downtown districts, Huangpu and Jing'an, will be the first under a coal ban.

(eastday.com 11/13/2000)

In This Series

War Against Pollution Intensified

New Emission Standards Should Reduce Pollution



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