Officials feel heat over waste incinerator

08:44, January 26, 2010      

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Guangdong residents say plant will threaten health, environment

GUANGZHOU: Authorities of Gaoming district in Foshan, Guangdong province, yesterday vowed to firmly oppose the construction of an industrial waste incinerator if the plant threatens the environment and health of its residents.

The pledge followed two consecutive days of protests by residents who demanded Nanhai district authorities, which neighbors Gaoming district, scrap plans to build its Jiangnan industrial waste incinerator.

Wu Jianfeng, a press official with the Gaoming district, said the incinerator had not yet been approved for construction by Nanhai authorities.

Wu said environmental protection authorities in Nanhai district had consulted Gaoming officials about the plans.

"Should the Nanhai sludge incinerator fail an environmental impact assessment, we will be firmly opposed to the project," Wu told China Daily.

"We hope Nanhai authorities would respect our opinions and attach more importance to approving such a project."

The project is designed to help generate electricity for the existing Jiangnan power plant by burning industrial waste and will be built 2 km across the Xijing River, a tributary of the Pearl River.

A second envionmental assessment of the project, conducted by the South China Institute of Environmental Sciences, has been completed but the results have not been released. The first assessment said pollutants were in line with the national standard.

Nanhai authorities have yet to approve the project and if it is unable to reach a consensus with Gaoming officials on its construction, then the Foshan government will step in.

Yesterday, about 300 people from Yongxing village near Guangzhou's largest garbage incinerator in Likeng, Baiyun district, gathered in front of the city's government office to voice their opposition to the plant.

Villagers said about 40 people had died of cancer since the incinerator began operation in 2006.

It followed a protest on Sunday by about 400 residents in Gaoming district. They were concerned about pollution drifting into their district.

The Foshan government said the plant is not yet approved.

"We have not received the final environmental impact assessment report. If both districts do not reach an agreement, it will be for higher authorities to take a decision on the project," said Lu Danmiao, deputy director of Foshan government environmental protection bureau.

"One thing is for sure, that pollutant discharges of the proposed plant should meet the national standard. Otherwise, we will not approve the project," Lu said.

Villagers near the Likeng plant, the country's largest garbage incinerator, have made consistent complaints about health problems since last year.

"We have to get drinking water outside of the village. Water in the wells can no longer be used," a 72-year-old resident surnamed Huang told China Daily during an earlier interview.

However, local officials have maintained the incinerator plant is not linked to deaths or cancer in local villagers.

"It is a rumor that the number of death and cancer cases has been rising after the garbage incinerator in Likeng was put into operation three years ago," Su Zequn, vice-mayor of Guangzhou, said in an interview in December.

"We have to let the public be aware that burning trash in advanced and environmentally friendly facilities is an ideal option for the city to deal with the rising amount of garbage," Su said.

The protests were among many recent demonstrations by residents in the province against high-polluting industrial projects, including a planned waste incinerator in Panyu district in Guangzhou, the provincial capital.

The province has reaffirmed its determination to improve the environment ahead of the 16th Asian Games, to be held in Guangzhou, in November.

A proposed large oil refinery in the ecologically rich Nansha district was relocated to a less populated area in Zhanjiang in western Guangdong last November, after a major public protest.

Source:China Daily
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