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China to close gas stations amid measures to ensure clean air for August Olympics

China to close gas stations amid measures to ensure clean air for August Olympics

Beijing will close 153 gas stations and oil depots during this summer's Olympic Games to meet concerns over air pollution in the Chinese capital, state media reported Friday.
The closures, equal to about 10 percent of capital's total for such facilities, will take place by the end of May because it would cost too much to bring them in line with vapor recovery rules, the Xinhua News Agency said.
Such technology uses specially designed nozzles to keep gasoline fumes from dispersing into the air and return them to underground storage tanks, Xinhua said, citing a report delivered Thursday at a meeting of the city's environmental, quality supervision and transportation bureaus.
In some cases, installing the technology could pose safety risks, while many other stations cannot afford the US$70,000 (euro47,860) cost of the upgrade, the report said.
Concerns over hot, polluted air in Beijing during the Aug. 8-24 Games have set national Olympic committees scrambling for ways to protect their athletes, especially those competing in outdoor endurance events.
Ground-level dust, soot and industrial emissions mixed with car exhaust creates a gray haze that regularly blankets the city of 17 million, while high humidity and a lack of wind in August pose an additional challenge.
Beijing has begun shutting down blast furnaces in the city's biggest steel company to improve air quality, and plans to suspend work on city construction sites from May onward.
Temporary traffic restrictions are being planned to ease traffic and reduce vehicle exhaust, and thousands, possibly millions, of temporary residents will be given vacation to return home to further reduce congestion.
With the efficacy of such measures yet to be proven, International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge has warned that some events could be postponed if air pollution presents a danger. Haile Gebrselassie, recognized as the world's greatest distance runner and holder of the world marathon record, said he might skip the Olympic marathon altogether in Beijing and opt for the shorter 10,000 meters.
The British Olympic Association said Thursday it was considering supplying its athletes with masks at the Olympics to counter pollution.
Other associations are reportedly also considering such steps, and most have advised their athletes to arrive in Beijing as late as possible and leave as soon as they can.


Updated : 2021-10-21 14:34 GMT+08:00