China's Tangshan imposes further steel cuts after smog forecast

Date 4/17/2018 1:43:24 PM Source: Reuters

       BEIJING, April 16 (Reuters) - China's top steelmaking city of Tangshan is enacting a series of emergency measures to tackle a bout of foul air expected to blanket the city and the surrounding Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region from Monday, a municipal official told Reuters by phone.


Steel mills have been ordered to cut 50 percent of sintering capacity over and above the existing output restrictions in place until November, the official with the emergency response department at the Tangshan Environmental Bureau said.


The official declined to give his name as he is not authorized to talk to media.


China's pollution prevention system allows cities to curb industrial activity in order to prevent smog build-ups, and Tangshan has already implemented a series of special measures aimed at boosting air quality.


The emergency measures put into place this week will see current sintering capacity cut by 50 percent in order to curb smog build-up, the environmental official said. The city is already cutting production by 10-15 percent from March to November as part of its anti-smog efforts.


Tangshan last month was one of two cities that extended until November output curbs put into place at steel mill to fight smog over the winter. 


This week's measures were put into effect after the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) warned of unfavourable weather conditions in northern China over April 16-20.


The ministry said on Monday that weak air circulation in the region would keep pollution from being dispersed in the second half of the month.


"The forecast pollution has not reached a level for us to issue a smog alert," said the Tangshan official. "But we asked the industrial plants to cut emissions in advance to help reduce pollution when it arrives."


The Tangshan government ordered the emergency measures to be effective from April 15. It has not set a date for the measures to be lifted.


The measures will also affect coking, metal casting and transportation sectors.


Unfavourable weather conditions are expected to be relatively frequent in the key industrial regions of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, and the Yangtze River and the Pearl River deltas in the second half of April, according to the MEE.


       Tangshan steel mills were earlier forced to shut down for as long as a week at the end of March, and executives said production curbs are the new normal.