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Satellites to focus on small polluters

Zhang Jinran
Updated: May 2,2017 7:10 AM     China Daily

The Ministry of Environmental Protection will put greater emphasis on high-tech satellite monitoring to identify pollution sources efficiently, using a grid system put in place late last year, according to the official in charge of the effort.

Now, the ministry will use its “hot grid” system, based on the satellite technology, to target more polluters-including small, unregistered, scattered companies that are operating illegally, said Li Wei, head of the ministry’s department in charge of the grid system.

The satellite inspections will supplement the ongoing national environmental inspections, in which teams on the ground have uncovered violations in 28 major cities of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, as well as in neighboring Henan, Shandong and Shanxi provinces, as of April 30.

The latest data from the Ministry of Environmental Protection show that about 68 percent of the 6,498 companies inspected had pollution problems.

Environmental inspectors have so far found 1,504 small polluting companies-all of which are unregistered and operating illegally-scattered in the northern region, which has seen frequent and severe smog since inspections began on April 7, according to the ministry.

More than 750 companies failed to install or use equipment to reduce emissions.

To locate smaller polluting companies more efficiently, the ministry will employ its advanced “hot grid” system, which helps identify zones where companies or other sources may be excessively discharging pollutants. The grid separates areas into grid squares, each measuring 9 square kilometers.

Emission levels in each area are determined using data collected by satellites.

Inspectors have already been using the hot grid information as a guide to find polluters, but the information will be improved with regular updates to aid inspections, the ministry said.

“We will randomly check the companies in the hot grid, which will become one of our work priorities,” said Guo Lubiao, head of the inspection team from Anyang, Henan province, which assumed inspection of Xingtai, Hebei province, on April 21.

“Exposing scattered polluting companies has been one of the priorities in the initial stage of the yearlong inspection,” said Tian Weiyong, head of the monitoring department at the ministry. Any small, unregistered operators that are exposed will be shut down, Tian said.

The ministry’s list of inspection results, which is released daily, is growing longer.

In Xingtai, inspectors from Qingdao, Shandong province, found 173 violations, 93 of which involved illegally operating small companies not included in the government’s shutdown list, said Zhao Peng, the head of the team.

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