BEIJING — Thermal power stations and papermaking enterprises in China will from the second half of 2017 need licenses to discharge pollutants, as the country seeks tighter pollution control, the country’s top environment watchdog said on Jan 6.
China’s new pollutant discharge policy requires all stationary sources of pollution to obtain discharge licenses by 2020, according to a regulation released by the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
Stationary sources are the major sources of China’s pollutant discharge, and bringing stationary sources under control is the key to industrial pollution management, the ministry said.
By issuing the licenses, environmental authorities will specify the location and number of pollutant discharge outlets for companies, the method and direction of discharge, as well as set ceilings on the variety, concentration and amount of pollutants.
Steel and cement factories in Beijing and parts of Hebei province, where air pollution is rampant, will also be required to obtain licenses before discharging pollutants from July this year.
China had 3,288 thermal power plants under environmental monitoring by 2014, responsible for 40 percent of China’s industrial sulfur dioxide emission and 55.7 percent of nitric oxide emission.
Meanwhile, the country has 4,664 papermaking enterprises discharging 18.7 percent of its total chemical oxygen demand.
Chinese authorities will next verify and issue discharge licenses for enterprises in other industries with heavy pollution or overcapacity in 2017, including petrochemical, nonferrous metal, cement, printing and dyeing firms.
The licenses will be valid for three years on first application. Once expired, they can be renewed for an extension of five years after obtaining regulatory approval, the ministry said.
Companies in breach of the policy may face fines up to 1 million yuan (about $144,559) or the suspension of operations. Actions that hamper government supervision, such as the damaging of monitoring devices and failing to keep original monitoring records, will also be punished.
The Chinese government released a national plan on environmental improvement for the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020) last month, setting detailed tasks to clean up polluted air, water and soil to improve the ecosystem.