Sports/Olympics / Green Olympics, People Olympics

Decades-old oven stops operation for more blue skies in Beijing
Updated: 2006-05-22 10:22

BEIJING, May 20 -- A 42-year-old coke oven that has made huge contribution to China's metallurgy industry stopped operation here Saturday for environmental protection in Beijing, Beijing Shougang Group announced.

General Manager Wang Qinghai of Beijing Shougang Group, China's fourth largest steel maker, made the announcement and said the company is relocating polluting plants to the neighboring Hebei Province so that the national capital can have more blue skies.

The company's No. 2 coke oven has set five records in China, including the records of the most advanced technology and the single biggest output of coke, during various periods.

The oven has produced 6.48 million tons coke, 380,000 tons of other chemicals and 2.6 billion cubic meters of coal gas since it started operation in December 1964.

"I feel sorry that the long-lived oven stops operation. But it is worthwhile as Beijing will have more blue skies and cleaner air," said Zhao Xiaoming, a Shougang staff who has worked beside the oven for 22 years.

The Shougang Group, also translated as the Capital Iron and Steel Company, was established in 1919 and is one of the country's largest steel-makers.

Although widely regarded as a flagship enterprise in China's iron and steel industry, Shougang has been vehemently blamed for polluting the capital city in recent years and is considered a potential obstacle for the upcoming 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

In response to the criticism, the company launched, under the approval of the State Council, an ambitious plan to relocate its polluting plants to the neighboring Hebei Province.

According to the plan, Shougang has cut its steel output in the past few years and will further reduce the annual production of its Beijing factories to four million tons by 2007.

By 2010, all the current Beijing-based steel operations will stop and move to Hebei with only the headquarters, research and development sections, sales departments and logistical center staying in the national capital. Enditem