Northeast China Suffers Severe Air Pollution; Some City Responses Are Inadequate
Yicai Global
/SOURCE : Yicai
Northeast China Suffers Severe Air Pollution; Some City Responses Are Inadequate

(Yicai Global) Nov. 7 -- Some Chinese cities have failed to take sufficient measures and have been slow to issue alerts even though heavy air pollution has struck parts of the country recently.

China's Ministry of Environmental Protection dispatched 12 inspection groups on Nov. 2 to carry out checks in major areas in Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shandong, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning and Jiangsu, it said yesterday. On-site inspections show that pollution forecasts and responses are still not good enough.

Heavy air pollution has struck many places in the north and east of the country, extending over 1,600 kilometers to East China and affecting more than 30 cities in six provinces. With a number of cities reporting PM2.5 particle readings that are off the charts, the latest airpocalypse is a rare event in recent years both in terms of its severity and scope.

Harbin suffered dire pollution for 26 hours in a row, with the air quality index (AQI) hitting 500 for 14 straight hours, the ministry said. Yet Harbin only issued a blue alert, the city's lowest warning level. Daqing faced heavy and severe smog for 37 consecutive hours, with the AQI reaching 500 for 24 straight hours, which requires a red alert. But it only forecast heavy pollution for a day and issued an orange alert.

Tongliao in Inner Mongolia saw its AQI at 500 for nearly two days and did not give a blue alert until after being urged to do so by the environmental protection ministry and the environmental protection office of the autonomous region.

A blue alert is a general warning that there may be heavy pollution for one day. An orange alert means there could be heavy or severe pollution in the next three days. A red alert is the highest level, meaning there could be severe pollution for the next three days. An AQI reading of 201 to 300 means heavy pollution, while 301 to 500 means severe pollution.

The inspections also found that contingency plans for heavy smog were not in place in some cities and company emissions are still rising, the ministry said.

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