Police in the Chinese city of Wuhan detained two people for spreading rumors that heavy pollution in the capital of Hubei province was caused by an industrial accident, a newspaper controlled by the local Communist Party reported.
The Changjiang Daily, supervised by Wuhan’s party committee, said government departments denied rumors the smog that covered the city June 11 was related to an industrial accident or the leaking of toxic gases. The newspaper didn’t give more information about the people detained or the rumors. Tests showed the pollution was most likely caused by the burning of straw and plant matter on nearby farms, the newspaper reported.
China’s government has pledged efforts to reduce pollution while also increasing its bid to control the release of information on emissions after toxic spills and health concerns caused violent protests. Wu Xiaoqing, a vice minister of environmental protection, last week called on foreign embassies to stop publishing data on pollution, saying only the Chinese government had the authority to do so.
“Air quality is a grim challenge for China,” Liu Weimin, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a regular briefing in Beijing yesterday in response to a question about pollution in Wuhan. “China has strived to improve air quality from many aspects. After all, China is only at its infant stage of industrialization hence it’s impossible to fix the problem overnight.”
China, the world’s second-biggest economy, is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases.
Air quality in Wuhan was the worst in a decade on June 11 as the level of particulate matter in the air surged to almost four times the national standard, state broadcaster China Central Television reported yesterday.
Monitoring by Wuhan’s environmental authorities found that for each cubic meter of air in the city on the afternoon of June 11, there were 0.58 milligrams of matter 10 micrometers in size, CCTV reported. The national standard for so-called PM10 matter is 0.15 milligrams per cubic meter of air, according to CCTV.
The smog is expected to shroud the city for two more days, CCTV reported, citing Ma Xuekuan, chief forecaster for the China Meteorological Administration.
Health concerns stemming from industrial projects have led to a number of violent protests in China. In December, police fired teargas at villagers in the southern town of Haimen after they refused to end a demonstration against the construction of power plant they accused of harming the health of locals.
In September, villagers in eastern China’s Zhejiang province overturned eight vehicles and damaged four police cars during a protest against a factory owned by solar-panel manufacturer JinkoSolar Holding Co., which they accused of polluting a nearby river.
Lab analysis showed the increase in Wuhan’s pollution was the result of a rising amount of carbon particles, which are usually created by the burning of organic matter, according to the Changjiang Daily. China is currently in the middle of its winter wheat harvesting season, during which many farmers burn stubble on their fields.
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