The South Korean government has toughened emission standards for air pollutants of fine-dust producing businesses such as coal-fired power plants and steelmaking facilities as part of efforts to tackle the nation’s worsening air pollution.
The Ministry of Environment announced Wednesday that it will cut the permissible limits of air pollutants including nitrogen oxide, sulfur oxides and fine dust dubbed as PM 2.5, particulate matter (PM) with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, for 31 facilities engaging in coal-fired power generation, steelmaking, oil refining and cement manufacturing. The new standards will be imposed next year.
Permissible emission standards for coal-fired power plants will be lowered by half starting next year. The allowable PM 2.5 level will be revised from current 20~25 micrograms per square meters (㎎/㎥) to 10∼12㎎/㎥, sulfur oxides from 80~100 parts per million (ppm) to 50~60ppm and nitrogen oxide from 70~140ppm to 50~70ppm. The tougher emission standards for the oil refining industry will only be applied to heating facilities and for the cement manufacturing industry to firing and cooling facilities.
This is a follow-up measure to the government’s roadmap announced in September last year to reduce fine dust level by 30 percent in the country by 2022. An official from the environment ministry said it was necessary to strengthen the regulatory standards for the 31 facilities emitting much higher level of air pollutants than others.
The ministry predicted the measure would reduce the pollutants emitted from the facilities by 14,000 tons per year, amounting to about 14.1 percent of the government’s reduction goal of 99,000 tons by 2022. The government is also mulling imposing about 30 percent stricter emission standards from 2020 for other businesses.
Korea has been grappling with the worsening air pollution due to increasing fine dust concentration in recent years. To improve the country’s air quality, the Moon Jae-in government has announced to close down aged coal-fired power plants and suspend new construction. It will also expand the share of natural gas and renewable energy to phase off the country’s high reliance on nuclear power. Aged diesel vehicles are not allowed to run in Seoul, either.
But such efforts have not yet succeeded in significantly reducing the country’s fine dust concentration.
By Moon Jae-yong and Choi Mira
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]