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(LEAD) Gov't to regulate older diesel cars, thermal plants to tackle fine dust

All News 11:56 June 03, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 4-6; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, June 3 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean government said Friday it will toughen restrictions on old diesel vehicles and coal-fired thermal power plants to address public health concerns over fine dust.

Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn said the government plans to limit the entry of old diesel-powered vehicles into the Seoul metropolitan area and shut down coal-powered electric power generation plants that have been in operation for more than 40 years to improve air quality.

The remark came ahead of a meeting with top officials from state agencies, including the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, and the Ministry of Environment.

Amid calls that state actions aimed at fine-dust emissions should not interfere with people's livelihoods, Hwang said the government will provide subsidies to small barbecue eateries so they can take steps like setting up filtered vents to reduce the amount of dust particles released into the atmosphere, rather than just putting the restrictions in place.

The prime minister added that South Korea will also expand ties with neighboring countries considering the geographical position of the Korean Peninsula enables fine dust to come in from abroad.

"Through such measures, we will lower the amount of fine dust in the air to meet the levels of major European cities in 10 years," Hwang said.

Fine dust refers to particles that are smaller than 10 micrometers and have been known to cause various respiratory problems while also affecting the body's immune system.

South Korea's ruling Saenuri Party earlier expressed concerns over speculation that the government is considering measures to regulate barbecue shops and increase the price of diesel fuel without getting feedback from the general public.

The latest decision falls shy of raising diesel prices and the levying of so-called environmental improving charges that have been advocated by some ministries.

It, however, rolls back benefits provided by the government to diesel cars, which could trigger public backlash.

colin@yna.co.kr
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