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China Reduces Pollutant Emissions in 1st Half of 2008

Tougher environmental controls reduced the amount of pollution in China in the first half of this year, Minister of Environmental Protection Zhou Shengxian said on Tuesday.

Emissions of chemical oxygen demand (COD), a measure of water pollution, totaled 6.74 million tons in the January-June period, 2.48 percent less than that of the same period of last year.

In terms of air pollution, sulfur dioxide emissions, mainly from coal use, were 12.13 million tons, dropping 3.96 percent from last year's amount, Zhou said.

"The dual reduction was achieved through continued pollution control measures, as well as the closure of some outdated plants that consumed too much energy," Zhou said.

In 2008, China's power industry installed flue gas desulfurization (FGD) technology at some coal-burning power plants with a total generating capacity of 40,600 megawatts (MW).

New sewage treatment facilities built this year could treat 6.78 million tons of sewage daily. Because that's more than older facilities, the amount of water pollution in certain areas was reduced.

China also closed some smaller power plants, with a total generating capacity of 8,360 MW, because they failed to meet requirements for clean production.

The government's decisions to reduce the production of high energy-consuming materials such as steel, electrolytic aluminum and cement also contributed less pollutant emissions, Zhou said.

The ministry also tightened environmental evaluation standards this year on proposed projects in power, steel and petrochemical industries.

A total of 104 projects, involving 314.56 billion yuan (US$46 billion) of investment, were either rejected or postponed in the January-August period due to potential environmental problems, Zhou said.

There were 335 projects, with a total investment of 1.49 trillion yuan (US$218.2 billion), which passed environmental evaluations during the same period.

Because of new pollution control measures, the approved projects will now save an estimated 290,000 tons of sulfur dioxide emissions and 30,500 tons of COD annually, Zhou said.

(Xinhua News Agency November 19, 2008)

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