Beijing issues first red alert for heavy air pollution

Updated: 2015-12-07 19:46


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Beijing issues first red alert for heavy air pollution

A woman walks by a river near the Imperial Palace on a smoggy day in Beijing. [Photo by Zou Hong/Asianewsphoto]

BEIJING -- Beijing has upgraded its alert for air pollution from orange to red, the most serious level, on Monday afternoon.

This is the first time the capital has issued the red alert, which will last from 7:00 a.m. Tuesday to 12:00 pm Thursday.

Beijing's Education Commission has decided to suspend classes in all elementary and middle schools, kindergartens and extracurricular training schools during the alert. Teachers are encouraged to give learning advices to students via Internet and other communication tools.

Car use will be limited as cars are allowed on the roads on alternating days depending on the odd or even numbers of their license plates. In addition, 30 percent of government cars will be banned from streets on an odd/even basis.

According to the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center, heavy air pollution will linger until Thursday. It is expected to disperse Thursday afternoon as a cold front arrives.

This is the first time Beijing has issued a red alert for smog since 2013 when Beijing adopted an emergency response program for air pollution.

Four-tier alerts--blue, yellow, orange and red--will be issued on "heavy pollution" days. Red alert, the highest, will be issued for heavy pollution that is expected to last more than three days.

According to the city's emergency management headquarters, during a red alert, kindergartens, primary and high schools are advised to suspend classes, and outdoor operations of construction sites are banned and some industrial plants are required to limit or stop production.

Chinese Environment Minister Chen Jining has vowed to strictly punish agencies or personnel who fail to initiate emergency response plan in a timely manner.

Local environment protection agencies, especially those in Beijing, Tianjing, Hebei, Shandong, Henan and Shanxi which are constantly haunted by air pollution, should examine their emergency response measures and reflect upon deficiencies, said Chen on Sunday at an emergency meeting to cope with the upcoming smoggy days.

Strict standards and practical work styles should be adopted to deal with the upcoming days, he ordered.

The minister asked local governments to initiate appropriate emergency responses according to the highest level of forecasted pollution.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection has dispatched inspection teams to regions with heavy pollution to ensure emergency plans are being launched in time, monitor and control pollution sources such as coal burning, and enhance management on vehicles that cannot meet national emission standards.

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