Stricter control of dioxin

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China plans to cut the intensity of dioxin emissions in key industries by 10 percent by 2015 in a major effort to address rising air pollution.

A circular issued by nine central government departments, including the Ministry of Environmental Protection, called for stricter control of dioxin in key sectors, ranging from ferrous metal production, garbage incineration and steel or iron smelting.

The circular, posted on the ministry's website, said a nationwide survey on organic pollutants indicated that more than 10,000 enterprises in 17 key industries discharge dioxin into the atmosphere.

It ordered all emission-producing equipment in key industries to be fitted with dust-removing facilities by June 2011.

"By 2015, the country should have in place a sound, long-term mechanism for monitoring and preventing dioxin pollution," the circular said.

"The intensity of dioxin emissions in key industries should be cut by 10 percent to offset the increase in emissions."

Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta will be the first places to control dioxin emissions on a trial basis, according to the circular.

The reduction and control of dioxin will be considered in assessing the environmental impact of key industries.

Newly built, reconstructed and expanded projects and enterprises will have to pass the national standard for dioxin emissions at the outset, the circular said.

The circular also required waste incineration facilities to release an annual environmental impact report to the public, with statistics on their release of oxysulfide, nitrogen oxides and hydrogen chloride being updated online in real time and tested once a year for accuracy.

Local environmental protection departments were told to monitor and check waste incineration facilities every two months.

Heavy-polluting factories that fail the national standards on emissions must be shut down or suspend operations. Local environmental authorities were ordered to set up a database on pollution sources in their areas as well as to regularly monitor factories that emit dioxin.

China's national standard on dioxin emissions is one nanogram per cubic meter - 10 times the amount legally allowed in the European Union and the United States.

Environmental analysts said poorly managed plants that produce excessive dioxin emissions in parts of the country can be linked to cancer and other health problems in neighboring residents.

"I welcome the government's efforts to reduce pollution. Recycling and reducing pollution are beneficial to the environment," said Wang Xiaojun, director of Greenpeace China.

As a result of social disputes triggered by the construction of dioxin-emitting projects in recent years, the ministry said it has been working to tighten standards on emissions for waste incineration facilities, which are apt to be "consistent" with international levels since 2009.

In May, 600 residents of Dongguan in South China's Guangdong province protested against a garbage incinerator planned for their neighborhood.

In December 2009, villagers in Bishan county of Chongqing stopped operations at the Bishan Hazardous Waste Disposal Center.

Across the country, more than 30 cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Nanjing, have seen similar grassroots protests against waste incineration projects over the past two years.

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