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Heavily Polluted City Invests in a Cleaner Environment
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Aiming to become a model city of environmental protection, Benxi, a heavily polluted steel and iron base in southeastern Liaoning Province, will work to clean up its air and water over the next five years.


About 4 billion yuan (US$5 million) will be invested in reducing industrial pollution as well as setting up a central heating system and urban domestic waste treatment facilities.


"Our goal is to make the list of National Environment Protection Model Cities," said Zhang Dianchun, deputy mayor of Benxi.


"The healthy development of the economy depends on environmental protection," Zhang said.


Benxi was once one of the most polluted cities in China because of its heavy industrial waste and its basin geography, which prevents free airflow.


As one of the major steel and iron production bases, Benxi has many metal smelting factories.


Zhang Xiaofang, manager of the Benxi Iron and Steel Group, said it has invested more than 18 billion yuan (US$2.3 billion) in advanced equipment to reduce pollution to the minimum.


"We'll keep working to decrease waste discharge and set up an environmental emergency treatment mechanism," Zhang said.


Moreover, local authorities also pledged to help those factories raise funds to upgrade facilities.


Since the smoke spewing from hundreds of factory chimneys is the main source of pollution, the city decided to establish a central heating system.


The central heating system will replace those small factories that provide heat in the northeastern city during cold seasons.


Zhang said that the local government is negotiating with one company to set up a large-scale thermo-electric power plant in Benxi with a total investment of 6 billion yuan (US$739 million). After its completion, the whole city will be able to enjoy clean and sufficient heating.


The other measures include vehicular emission control and household waste treatment.


(China Daily June 23, 2006)

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