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Beijing issues red alert for air pollution


12-16-2016 05:39 BJT

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BEIJING, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- Beijing and its neighboring Tianjin Municipality have both issued their first red alerts for air pollution this year with heavy smog forecast in northern China Friday, local environmental protection authorities said Thursday. The red alerts will be active from 8 p.m. on Friday until Dec. 21 when air quality is expected to improve.

According to the emergency response plan for severe air pollution released November, four consecutive days of heavy air pollution, including two days of severe air pollution, activate a red alert. A red alert is also issued if the Air Quality Index reaches 500.

Besides Beijing and Tianjin, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said another 21 cities including Shijiazhuang, Taiyuan and Zhengzhou are expected to issue red alerts, with nine others expected to issue orange.

Warm, humid air will trap pollutants and cause air quality to drop dramatically, according to meteorologist Wang Zifa.

Transport authorities in both cities have announced emergency vehicle controls. Vehicles will be restricted based on an odd-or-even license plate rule. In Beijing, high polluting vehicles will be ordered off the roads. Governments and state-owned enterprises are requested to cut the number of vehicles on the road by 30 percent. Offenders will be fined 100 yuan (about US$14).

Both cities will shut down construction sites, certain factories and schools are advised to suspend classes.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection will check whether local governments have taken appropriate measures to address heavy pollution and to sanction illegal factory emissions.

At least 687 Chinese officials have already been held accountable for their poor environmental protection records, the MEP announced Tuesday.

Environmental protection assessments are currently underway in seven provincial regions including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong.

China has a four-tier warning system for severe weather, with red being the most serious, followed by orange, yellow and blue.

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