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Inspector finds work hard but satisfying

China Daily by Zheng Jinran, May 4, 2017 Adjust font size:

In his 21 years as an environmental inspector, Yin Wei has never had an assignment as intense as his most recent one: heading a team to help clean up China's smog-plagued north.

He was among those chosen for the first round of the Ministry of Environmental Protection's yearlong anti-pollution inspection of 28 cities in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and surrounding areas.

"It's the largest inspection I've been involved with," said the 41-year-old, who usually inspects industries in Lyuliang, Shanxi province. "The schedule is really busy. We start at 8 am, report our results by 9 pm and then start to assign the next day's tasks. I didn't get to sleep before midnight."

Yin's assignment lasted for the first three weeks of the inspection. His team checked about 200 companies across Handan, an industrial city in Hebei. About 90 percent were in violation of various pollution control measures.

"In my home city, we've confronted similar pollution problems because it has the same pillar industries," he said, referring to steel, mining and power generation. "This made it easier for us to look at companies' key production areas during the inspections."

For example, Yin said, he and three inspectors decided to check a coking plant in the Fengfeng mining district after they noticed smoke rising from a chimney that was below the required height. The group discovered the factory was using an illegal chimney that had not been fitted with any of the monitoring equipment authorities use to track emission levels.

The findings were reported to the ministry and the local government, which vowed to handle the matter quickly, he said.

"That's why this field inspection is important," he said. "We're here to help local governments find the problems and to reduce pollution, not make trouble for them."

For some companies, however, the inspectors can mean big trouble - especially those operating illegally.

While most companies are compliant, some have resisted. Zhao Peng, who led an inspection team last month to Xingtai, also in Hebei, said workers at several plants attempted to obstruct officials, including grabbing their documents. To ensure the safety of inspectors, he suggested the ministry provide uniforms that look official, which might deter some workers from interfering.

Yin was pleased to have a chance to make a difference. "Although it was tiring work, seeing the illegal polluters shut down and air pollution improving is satisfying," he said.