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China Reports Cities Suffering from Severe Air Pollution

More than a half of Chinese cities suffer from air pollution and over one third have no centralized sewage treatment facilities, according to a report by the state environment watchdog.


The report, issued by the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) on Monday, rated air pollution the major environmental problem for urban areas after assessing last year's environmental conditions in 509 cities.


According to the report, air quality in only 44.9 percent of cities was above Grade II, a national standard indicating a clean and healthy air environment. However, the figure was 12.6 percentage points higher than the figure for 2004.


Forty-three cities, down by 9.9 percentage points, were put on SEPA's black list, with air quality below Grade III, meaning they suffered serious to very serious air pollution.


North China's Shanxi Province, the country's largest coal supplier and most polluted region, has the dubious distinction of having 16 cities on the list. Neither Beijing nor Shanghai appears on the list.


The report found that only 22.94 percent of sewage was treated in the cities surveyed and less than 20 percent of household garbage was handled properly.


It said 178 cities examined had not built any sewage treatment facilities and 130 cities had not been equipped with garbage disposal plants.


SEPA urged these cities to raise investment in environmental protection and step up construction of related infrastructures.


(Xinhua News Agency September 6, 2006)

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