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City to Tear down Polluting Chimneys

Shenyang, capital of northeast China's Liaoning Province, heavily polluted after decades of economic planning geared at energy-consuming and environmentally-destructive production, plans to pull down some 3,000 highly contaminating factory chimneys in the next couple of years.

The local government will tear down one third of them this year, said a source from the city's environment protection bureau.


The city, which is applying for the title of Garden City in China, plans to invest 150 million yuan (US$18 million) in this cleanup project to eliminate 1,000 high-polluting industrial chimneys this year.


In addition, 400 small boilers will be extinguished forever this year.


This is only one part of the city's campaign aimed at turning the tide in the most severely polluted city.


Once the campaign is over, there will be less than 1,000 smokestacks left, said Liu Peng of the city's environmental protection bureau.


About 600 factory chimneys will be kept and cleaning devices will be installed in them.


"The environment is vital for Shenyang's rejuvenation. We would pursue new ways of development but never trade it for temporary GDP growth as in the past," said Chen Zhenggao, mayor of Shenyang.


In 1988, Shenyang, cradle of the nation's industrial base, was identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the 10 most polluted cities in the world.


The city burned about 11 million tons of coal a year for both industrial purposes and domestic heating and cooking.


Sulfur dioxide and particulate pollution were especially severe.


There were hundreds of metallurgical, chemical, paper, automotive and other industrial plants in and around the city.


"Your face and clothes would get cloaked with coal particles only if you walked through the district of Tiexi in the 1970's," Kong Fanwen, a 60-year-old local citizen said. Tiexi is one district of Shenyang, which housed many workshops.


"It is not only about pulling down the old chimneys. It shows our determination to turn to the new way of development, a green and sustainable way," said Shi Qijin, director of Shenyang environment protection bureau.


Local authorities have developed a set of measures to deal with pollution, including reforming the heating system, enforcing automobile inspections and seeking international assistance in accordance with the nation's issuance of environmental protection law in 1996.


(China Daily April 1, 2004)

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