AIR POLLUTION
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Beijing air pollution

Smog-plagued Beijing may ban coal trucks, storage in Tianjin to tackle capital’s air pollution woes

Area surrounding the capital and its neighbour, Tianjin, in Hebei province, is the most polluted in the world’s second-largest economy

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 December, 2016, 4:56pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 December, 2016, 5:02pm

Beijing’s environmental watchdog is considering a ban on the use of trucks to transport coal and closing coal storage facilities in Tianjin, one of China’s busiest ports, a researcher with the agency said, in what would be a drastic move to tackle smog.

The city’s Environmental Protection Bureau has not made a formal proposal to the municipal government of Tianjin, Zhou Yangsheng, researcher with the agency told a coal industry briefing on Monday.

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He did not give an estimate on when a decision might be made about the move.

If the ban were to be implemented, it would be the latest in a series of extreme steps taken by the Beijing’s city government to cut air pollution in and around the smog-plagued capital.

The area surrounding the capital and its neighbour, Tianjin, in Hebei province, is the most polluted in the world’s second-largest economy despite mounting efforts to control traffic and shut down coal-fired power plants and steel mills.

Tianjin port, China’s second largest by cargo volume, is the key hub for trading 100-million-tonnes a year of seaborne coal and domestic coal, which flows south from Inner Mongolia.

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The proposal could cut coal volumes at Tianjin by as much as 43 million tonnes, incurring a loss of 400 million yuan (US$58 million) for the city, Yangsheng said, although ports in other parts of China would take the lost business.

Closing storage facilities and banning trucks was also likely to force shippers and traders to find alternative routes and modes of transport, such as rail.

The municipal government of Tianjin did not respond to a request for comment on the proposal.