Smog station fails to satisfy public

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 December, 2011, 12:00am


Amid mounting public pressure, the authorities announced a plan to set up a new air-quality monitoring station to gauge severe smog in Beijing and Tianjin .

But the move, apparently aimed at appeasing the public over a lack of transparency in pollution data, does not appear to have worked, as complaints soared about dense smog that blanketed the capital yesterday.

Citing the fact that the new station will be built in Tianjin's Wuqing district, about 70 kilometres southeast of Beijing, environmentalists and microbloggers say the government is insincere in heeding public concerns.

'What's the point of building a pollution-monitoring station in the remote Tianjin suburbs, where air quality is supposedly much better than in city centres of Beijing and Tianjin?' said Yang Changjiang, an environmental reporter in Beijing.

According to several government-controlled newspapers in the capital, the station will feature world-class equipment to monitor health-threatening pollutants, such as fine particles of less than 2.5 microns in diameter, known as PM2.5, and ozone.

The media reports did not say when the data would be made public.

The station would be the first to study how pollutants are transferred between the two cities, and how to tackle air pollution as a regional concern, The Beijing News said.

It will be jointly operated by Tianjin's municipal meteorological bureau and the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences.

Beijing, Tianjin and many other cities were hit by heavy smog recently, prompting a nationwide outcry.

The capital has set up more than two dozen monitoring stations to gauge PM2.5, but the municipal government said recently that it had no timetable to make that data public, despite mounting calls.

The capital's municipal environment bureau formally rejected a Beijing resident's application to access PM2.5 data over the weekend.

'The real problem we are facing here is the government still tries to withhold the truth about severe pollution from the public,' Yang said.