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Beijing Closes 10 Industrial Polluters to Keep Air Fresher

Ten industrial polluters have been shut down, as Beijing and its neighbors have worked hard to fulfill their Olympic commitment in curbing major pollutant emissions.

Sources with the coordination work group for guaranteeing air quality for Beijing 2008 Olympic Games confirmed that ten big polluters, mainly cement, steel and chemical plants, have been shut down in the latest round of mandatory emission control work.

The work group coordinates the emission control work of six municipal and provincial-level environment protection departments in Beijing, Tianjin municipalities, Hebei, Shanxi, Shandong provinces and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

The State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) has set the agenda to cut sulfur dioxide and chemical oxygen demand (COD), two major pollutants emissions in China, by 6 percent and 5percent respectively in 2008, China's Olympic year from 2005 levels.

The plan means the country will cut up to 2.3 million tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions and 1.3 million tons of chemical oxygen demand (COD) this year.

By 2010, the plan is to reduce both levels by 10 percent based on the 2005 levels.

The environment protection authorities under the coordination of the work group said that more factories will be closed down this year, but did not give the exact figures.

The joint effort on emission control has yielded an initial effect. Beijing experienced 22 "blue sky" days, or days with fairly good air quality, in January. That was the best run of clear days since the year 2000, though persistent cold air was also cited as a major factor to keep the air clear.

(Xinhua News Agency February 3, 2008)

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