Beijing issues rare air pollution alert

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BEIJING (AP) — When the air gets really bad, Beijing says it has an emergency plan to yank half the city's cars off the road. The only problem is: It may be difficult to ever set that plan in motion.

A rare alert issued Friday was an "orange" one, the second-highest in the four levels of urgency. It prompted health advisories, bans on barbeques, fireworks and demolition work, but no order to pull cars from the streets.

Beijing's alert system requires a forecast of three days in a row of severe pollution for the highest level.

Ma Jun of the non-governmental Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs in Beijing said the government is reluctant to adopt the most disruptive measures, because it would be nearly impossible to notify all drivers of the rules.

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