Seoul to replace diesel buses with electric ones

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Seoul to replace diesel buses with electric ones

The city government of Seoul announced Monday a plan to replace all diesel-fueled buses in the city with electric vehicles by 2023 to combat fine dust pollution.

“We still have 444 buses operating throughout the city that run on diesel,” the Seoul Metropolitan Government said in its statement on Monday. “By replacing them with electric vehicles in 2023, we will be preventing what would have been the addition of 37 tons of nitrogen oxide into the air.”

The city government will spend 22 billion won ($19.4 million) on the project.

It will also replace 100,000 diesel-fueled and gas-fueled motorcycles used by restaurants and food delivery companies with electric motorcycles by 2025.

“There are studies that found that motorcycles can emit as much as six times the nitrogen oxide emitted by cars in general,” said Koh Hong-seok, head of the urban transportation bureau of the city government in a press briefing at City Hall on Monday. “We will be cooperating with restaurants, fast food chains and food delivery companies to replace these motorcycles by 2025. The effect, we hope, would be consummate to reducing emissions from 600,000 vehicles from the road.”

Although Korea has seen rising levels of fine dust for several years, this year and 2018 have been the worst. The daily average level of PM2.5 particles in Seoul hit a record on March 5, hitting 135 micrograms, the highest since 2015, when data was first recorded. This is more than five times the recommended daily exposure by the World Health Organization (WHO).

PM2.5 particles are particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, about 30 times smaller than the width of a human hair. The WHO describes them as carcinogenic since PM2.5 particles can travel through the respiratory tract and reach the bloodstream, causing lung cancer and other lung conditions as well as heart problems and strokes. Main causes of fine dust particles produced locally are vehicle emissions and power plants.

A joint study between NASA and the Environment Ministry’s National Institute of Environmental Research (NIER) in May and June 2016 said that 52 percent of the air pollutants in the country were found to have been produced locally.

The other 48 percent was attributed to external factors, with 34 percent coming from China.

“The city government has also been targeting old boilers which are a large factor in fine dust emissions in Seoul,” the city government said. “We will be speeding up the process of installing condensing boiler technology, a policy we’ve been implementing starting last year.”

There are about 900,000 boilers that have been in use for more than 10 years in the city, according to the city government. It plans to replace them with condensing boilers by 2022.

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