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Friday, January 11, 2008

Balikpapan city tightens up clean air quality control

Nurni Sulaiman, The Jakarta Post, Balikpapan

Balikpapan is one of the country's cleanest cities and is now taking further steps to show its dedication to the environment.

At the start of this month, Balikpapan city administration begun installing air quality control monitoring devices in high traffic areas to detect pollution levels.

"On the first phase, we have installed the device near Plaza Balikpapan area, and then in busy other busy traffic areas, like in front of Rapak Plaza," Balikpapan Environmental Impact Management Agency head Syahrumsyah Setia told The Jakarta Post.

He said the device would help the administration measure pollution levels and decide on preventive measures.

"By learning about air pollution levels, the administration can take the right measures and produce the right development policy to manage air quality and minimize the air pollution that harms people's health," Syahrumsyah said.

He said that by installing the device, both the administration and the public would immediately get accurate information on the area's air quality.

The device is also equipped with five color indicators for easy evaluation -- green for good air quality, blue for average, yellow for unhealthy, red for very unhealthy and black for dangerous air quality.

The agency's secretary Soufian AS said the program was one of the administration's moves to fight global warming.

"Once the device shows poor air quality levels in Balikpapan, we will tighten up vehicle emissions tests in the city.

"In the long term, we might restrict vehicle ages, just like in developed countries, such as allowing only five-year-old cars to operate," Soufian said.

He said the first device was installed last week and its electricity connection would be completed this week.

"Within the next two days, we will be able to see the benefits," he said.

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