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China announces campaign to tackle oil refinery and chemical plant emissions

19 May 2020

China has announced a campaign to cut toxic emissions from July as part of its efforts to reduce ground ozone pollution. The campaign will focus on reducing emissions from several industries including oil, gas, chemical, pharmaceutical, and packaging.

Pollution over eastern China, 2002 - Image: NASA
Pollution over eastern China, 2002 - Image: NASA

The push to reduce pollution comes after the China identified ground ozone pollution, primarily caused by vehicles and volatile organic compound (VOCs) from industrial areas, as the main cause of pollution during the summer months, Reuters news agency reports.

According to a draft plan announced by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) on May 18, China will adopt stricter VOC emission standards and increase supervision of production, transport and storage at plants in 102 cities from July 1. Refineries, chemical companies, pharmaceutical companies and others will need to submit maintenance plans scheduled for the summer months to the MEE for approval before the end of May.

Reuters reports that experts will be sent out to conduct research and inspections by the MEE in a number of provinces from June. Major state-run companies such as China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), Sinopec, CNOOC and Sinochem will also be asked to invest in technology that will improve VOC emission levels at their factories and plants.

China’s environment ministry will publish monthly reports on ground ozone pollution levels in all 102 cities and penalise any local authority which is unable to meet targets.

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