Beijing tells IOC it can breathe easy

By Cui Xiaohuo (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-12-21 08:18

Beijing's air quality was one of the key issues addressed at the year-ending meeting of the International Olympic Committee's Executive Board last week, with Beijing promising cleaner skies next summer.

The city still has to finalize some of the work pledged during the Olympic bid and implement contingency control plans before and during the Games, said Liu Qi, president of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG).

"We are determined to ensure that the air conditions meet the necessary standards in August 2008," Liu said via a video linkup to a Board led by IOC chief Jacques Rogge on December 11.

BOCOG handed Lausanne - where IOC is headquartered - the air quality data from this August when a simulated pollution-reduction scheme was in effect in Beijing.

China News Service reported that the medical division of IOC will analyze Beijing's findings in reference to World Health Organiazation standards.

Coal-burning industries were relocated as a long-term approach to improving air quality in the capital, reported Hawaii-based East-West Wire after a recent visit to Beijing.

The report also said that steel, coal and other plants around Beijing will temporarily cease production during the Games, which should result in removing a significant portion of the particulates and sulfur dioxide from the city's air.

Zhu Jimin, chairman of steel giant Shougang, said in October that his company is willing to cut production for three months next summer.

A more stringent plan to clean up the city's sky was formulated by a government-led panel after repeated revisions earlier this year. Local media reported the plan was signed off by the State Council, or China's cabinet, in mid-October.

The plan includes removing a large number of vehicles from the streets and shutting down coal-burning plants in both Beijing and neighboring provinces for about two months, starting just prior to the opening ceremony of the Olympics and ending with the Paralympics.

The 1,400 gas stations in Beijing will be retrofitted to prevent petroleum vaporization before next summer.

"Pollutants caused by car waste dropped between 15 to 20 percent during the four-day car control in August (during the Olympic pre-run)," Yang Fuqiang, an environment expert who has lived in the capital for 14 years, told China Daily in October.

"But I'm thinking we should see a drop in pollutants of about 50 to 60 percent next year."

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