12 Jan 2017

New Caledonia wants to tackle air pollution

11:05 am on 12 January 2017

New Caledonia's Congress has unanimously voted for territory-wide air quality controls which to date had been a provincial matter.

The SLN plant in Noumea.

The SLN plant in Noumea. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

The decision comes amid a large number of incidents of excessive air pollution in the Noumea area which have been measured by the organisation Scal Air.

At the behest of the Caledonia Together Party, the Congress agreed to limits similar to those in force in the European Union and in line with the recommendations of the World Health Organisation.

The decision will give businesses two years to lower emissions.

Noumea is home to the SLN nickel smelter whose emissions affect several neighbourhoods, with medical records showing that sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide have contributed to residents suffering from coughs and asthma.

SLN's old coal-fired power plant is due for replacement.

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