China blacklists 46 thermal power plants
China's environmental watchdog announced Thursday a list of 46 thermal power plants that posed a threat to the environment because they lacked desulfurization equipment.
The plants, mostly located in Shandong, Henan and Shanxi provinces, are among the 137 desulfurization projects planned in the country's acid rain and sulfur dioxide control regions covering 1.09 million sq km with 39 percent of the nation's total population, said a statement issued by the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA).
A SEPA official said the desulfuration projects should have been completed by the end of 2005 according to the regulations. However, construction on the projects has not even begun.
"If the pollutants discharged by thermal power plants are not effectively checked, the country's air pollution problem will worsen," he said.
Thermal power plants, mostly fueled by coal, are major air polluters in China. Figures from SEPA indicated that in 2003, the plants discharged 11 million tons of sulfur dioxide into the air, accounting for more than 50 percent of the total emission.
Sulfur dioxide emissions in China will reach more than 21 million tons by 2020 if not effectively curbed.
"Urgent measure must be taken to check the discharge of sulfur dioxide and desulfurization equipment must be installed in thermal power plants," said the official, vowing that SEPA will punish those who run against the country's environmental laws and regulations.
The move marked another major step taken by SEPA to help curb the excessive construction of power plants in the country.
On January 18, SEPA ordered the halt of construction of 30 large projects which failed to meet environmental standards.
Twenty-six of the projects are hydropower stations, thermal- power plants and other power projects including two at the Three Gorges area.
The projects were halted because they failed to pass environmental impact assessments according to the country's laws and regulations.
The laws stipulate that all projects must pass environmental impact assessments before they can be constructed. However, many localities regard environmental bureaus as rubber stamps, and go ahead with construction even if the green light is not given.
SEPA pledged that it will sharpen its teeth and take concrete actions fight environmental degradation in the country.