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8 cities, 5 power plants blacklisted for pollution
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China's environmental watchdog blacklisted Thursday eight cities for outdated sulphur removal processes at municipal sewage treatment plants and five power plants for fabricating smoke-gas monitoring data.

The cities are northern Hebei's Cangzhou, Shanxi's Jinzhong, northeastern Heilongjiang's Suihua, northwestern Shanxi's Shangluo, southeastern Fujian's Sanming and Jinjiang, central Hubei's Shiyan and Hunan's Yongzhou.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection Spokesman Tao Detian said the eight cities would be banned any new construction projects that needed more chemical oxygen demand (COD) or emissions, and the allocation of national construction funds would be suspended "if they cannot fix problems by the end of the year."

"Punishment in line with national regulations will be imposed on the five plants," Tao said. The plants are in northern Tianjin's Chentang, Hubei's Ezhou, southwestern Sichuan's Luzhou, Guizhou's Yaxi and northwestern Gansu's Jingyuan.

He said during a nationwide environmental inspection, the ministry found environmental problems in the eight cities, including inadequate implementation of fare policies for municipal sewage treatment and the unreasonable shutdown of sewage treatment facilities.

Supervisory departments would investigate and punish local officials in accordance with the law if their dereliction of duty causes major social impact.

The country has stepped up efforts in saving energy and reducing emissions. Last year, the emission of COD, a main index of water pollution,fell 4.42 percent in China and sulfur dioxide emission dropped 5.95 percent.

The emission of COD and sulfur dioxide declined 6.61 percent and 8.95 percent respectively over the past three years, according to the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planning agency.

"The situation is sound as emissions of both sulfur dioxide and COD remain on the decline," Tao said.

China set a target of cutting energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by 20 percent and cutting emissions of major pollutants, such as carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide, by 10 percent between 2006 and 2010, a state guideline said.

The ministry said 27 out of 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions saw drops of both sulfur dioxide and COD emissions in 2008, with Beijing recording the biggest drop of sulfur dioxide emission of nearly 18.8 percent, while Shanghai and Hebei saw the largest decrease of nearly 9.4 percent in COD emission.

(Xinhua News Agency July 24, 2009)

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