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bus and black smoke Pollution levels back up again in Mexico City.

Driving restrictions, pollution alert remain

Phase 1 contingency will continue through tomorrow

Increased driving restrictions remain in effect today in Mexico City and will remain so tomorrow as a phase 1 pollution alert continues.

High concentrations of ozone in a large part of the metropolitan area have led to pollution levels on the Imeca index to reach 179, according to the city’s atmospheric monitoring system. A phase 1 environmental contingency is declared when the index reaches 150.

The “no-drive days,” known as Hoy no circula, are being applied to twice as many vehicles as usual, a restriction called Doble hoy no circula.

Many industrial businesses are required to reduce their emissions by 30%-40%.

Gas stations are also affected by controls. Yesterday, 20%, or 250, were required to shut off their pumps, a measure that meant 6 million liters of gasoline went unsold, said a spokesman for gas station operators.

Not everyone is keen on the driving restrictions, and some attempt to avoid them. Mexico City’s Public Security Secretariat reports that 5,030 drivers have been sanctioned in nearly one month for not complying with the Hoy No Circula regulations. Vehicles are impounded in such cases and drivers must pay 980 pesos to have them released.

Some truckers have simply removed their license plates, whose numbers are used to determine which vehicles are allowed to circulate. The newspaper Reforma counted 100 such trucks on Avenida Ignacio Zaragoza during a five-hour period yesterday.

They left clouds of black smoke in their wake, the newspaper reported.

The city’s mayor says options are being explored with truck operators to install special filters which he said would reduce the emission of pollutants by up to 90%.

Miguel Ángel Mancera said he would like to see 40% of trucks install the system, but conceded they were expensive at US $7,000-$10,000 each. But the vehicles could be exempted from Hoy No Circula which would represent a financial benefit, he observed.

Source: Expansión (sp), Reforma (sp),  El Universal (sp)

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