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Environmental watchdog warns leaders of polluted cities

2015-02-28 09:14 Xinhua Web Editor: Gu Liping

China's Ministry of Environmental Protection on Friday warned leaders of two heavily polluted cities to take concrete actions to strengthen inspections and impose severe penalties on polluters.

Leaders of the cities of Linyi in eastern Shandong Province and Chengde in northern Hebei Province were summoned by environmental inspectors this week to discuss pollution problems.

Inspectors found that 13 of 15 energy-intensive, high-pollution enterprises had violated environmental laws, such as illegal sewage discharge, in Linyi. The enterprises were mainly coking and steel plants.

Meanwhile, inspectors said Chengde was the only city in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region that saw worsening air pollution figures last year.

"As the national capital's ecological shield, the city of Chengde plays a key role in the region's coordinated development," said Liu Changgen, an environmental inspector responsible for the northern part of the country, who asked for a rectification plan to be submitted to the environmental ministry within 15 days.

Chengde mayor Zhao Fenglou admitted to shortcomings in the government's work.

The ministry suspended two mining projects in northeastern Liaoning Province and eastern Anhui Province and fined them 100,000 yuan (16,400 U.S. dollars) each for their violations of environmental impact assessment rules.

The ministry also suspended an aluminum project in the city of Sanmenxia in central Henan Province and fined the company 100,000 yuan for its illegal sulfur dioxide discharge.

Officials who did not properly supervise the projects should be held accountable and receive administrative penalties, according to the ministry.

A revised environmental law that took effect in January vowed harsher penalties for those failing to conform with environmental standards. Officials will be forced to resign for ineffective pollution prevention.

Several Hebei cities adjacent to Beijing were among the list of most polluted Chinese cities last year. North China has frequently been seen shrouded in haze containing high concentrations of PM2.5 and other pollutants.

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