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Beijing to have cleaner air as steel giant leaves town
Updated: 2005-06-10 10:46

Beijing's air quality will be greatly improved by 2010 when Beijing Shougang Group, China's fourth largest steel manufacturer, has moved its plants to a neighboring province, said an environmental researcher Thursday.

Beijing Shougang Group is ready to move out of Beijing which aims to improve the air quality of the capital.[baidu]

"Shougang annually discharges 18,000 tons of solid particulate matter, accounting for more than 40 percent of that discharged by the whole industrial sector of the city," said Cai Hefa, a researcher from the China Environmental Science Research Institute at a forum on the relocation of the steel giant.

"That has put heavy pressure on Beijing's environmental protection, however the situation will be better by 2010," said Cai.

Located in Beijing's western suburbs, just 16 kilometers away from the Tian'anmen Square, Shougang Group (also Capital Iron and Steel Group) has been widely been cited as one of China's flagship industries. But in the past decade, it has become synonymous with chimneys belching out thick clouds of smoke. Shougang is now one of the capital's worst polluters.

According to sources from the Beijing Environmental Protection Monitor Center, the air quality of Beijing has improved in recent years. In 2004, 62.5 percent of the days were ranked "fine" or "fairly good" with pollution reading below 100. But in Shijingshan district in western Beijing, where Shougang is located, it was only 50.4 percent.

The 86-year-old company has spent more than 2 billion yuan (241million US dollars) on pollution control but still cannot meet the requirements for the Olympic Games, said Xue Wanqing, the director of the environment protection office under the group.

According to a plan approved by the State Council earlier this year, Shougang will relocate most of its existing production facilities to a new base built in neighboring Hebei Province.

"We'll take substantial measures, including production slowdown and suspension, to reduce pollution as we are able to move all the polluting plants by the time the Olympics opens," said Xue, adding the iron and steel smelting capacity will be reduced by 4 million tons by the end of 2007.

With an expected annual production capacity of eight million tons, the new base covers about 20 square kilometers will be located in Caofeidian, an island 80 km south of Tangshan, a scenic coastal city in Hebei Province, said Xue.

Shougang's headquarters, research and development section, sales department and logistical center will remain in Beijing. The company plans to develop non-steel-making sectors such as real estate and mechanical and electrical industries at the vacated site, said Xue.

"With new equipment and advanced pollution control technology, the new base will not damage the ecological environment in Caofeidian," said Xue.

Cai also support Xue's opinion by saying that the special geographical and meteorological conditions in Beijing make it difficult to clear off pollutants.

"In Caofeidian, where is near to the sea, pollutants are hard to assemble, which is of great help to protect local environment,"said Cai.

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