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S. Korea to scale down operation of coal plants over winter

South Korea's industry ministry said Thursday it will scale down the operations of local coal plants to 80 percent of their capacity starting in December in a broader effort to deal with a spike in fine dust here.

The ceiling will come into effect from December to February 2020, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. It marks the first time for South Korea to limit the operation of coal power plants over the winter.

The move came as South Korea has been making efforts to reduce the emission of fine dust, in part caused by automobiles and coal power plants.


Fine dust particles are more likely to penetrate deeper into the lungs, while ultra-fine particles can be absorbed directly into the blood stream, posing serious health risks.

The industry ministry already had local coal power plants scale down their operations over spring this year, as South Korea usually experiences the highest level of fine dust over the season.

The amount of fine dust emitted from local coal power plants reached around 23,000 tons in 2018, down 25 percent from 30,700 tons posted in 2016, according to the ministry.

In line with efforts to cut the emission of such pollutants, the ministry also has been promoting the use of low sulfur coal at local power plants, in order to reduce the emission of sulfur oxide, which accounts for three quarters of fine dust created from coal plants.

Earlier this month, South Korea unveiled a set of measures to limit fine dust pollution, which included banning non-essential public vehicles from roads every other day in major cities for four months beginning in December. (Yonhap)