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November 21, 2013

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Environmental law amendment targets polluting vehicles, firms

Vehicles found discharging layers of black smoke face a fine of up to 500 yuan (US$80.64) when the draft amendment to the environmental protection law becomes an act.

The amendment aims to curb the city’s deteriorating environment and lower the density of tiny PM2.5 pollutants by 20 percent by 2017, said Zhang Quan, director of the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau, yesterday.

The draft amendment was submitted to the standing committee of the city’s legislative body for review yesterday.

The amendment also includes a first for Shanghai — a pollution warning system that would be issued depending on “heavy” or “severe” air quality.

When the warnings are issued, the city government will suspend or restrict the production of pollution discharging units, ban construction and other related activities that causes dust easily, take heavily polluting and non-essential official vehicles off the roads and ban fireworks.

“The provisions regarding the warning and emergency measures should be further detailed as they are still relatively vague,” said Xu Deming, a deputy to the Shanghai People’s Congress.

The amendment also stipulates that those who are responsible for pollution or involved in serious environmental violations can be fined up to 100,000 yuan.

Companies discharging air pollutants without licenses or unloading excessive level of air pollutants even with licenses will be fined up to 100,000 yuan or possibly shut down if they fail to rectify them over a certain period of time.

Production, sales and import of motor vehicles that emit pollutants that exceed set standards will be banned or penalized. Factories whose boilers and furnaces discharge black smoke to a serious level, and construction sites and vehicles that fail to take measures against flying dust, also face heavy penalty, according to the amendment.

It also says that new eateries that cause excessive smoke will not be given permits in residential buildings. Restaurant operators will also have to install facilities that purify and treat oil, smoke and odors and not discharge excessive level of pollutants.

Offenders will be fined up to 50,000 yuan as smoke and oil is a source for PM2.5, the amendment says. PM2.5 refers to airborne particles which are smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. They are the main cause of urban smog and are harmful to human health.

The average density of PM2.5 was some 114 percent over the national standard in Shanghai in January. It was the major pollutant for 94.5 percent of days with poor air quality in the city in the first half of this year.


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