Guangzhou residents say no to proposal for second incinerator

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 November, 2009, 12:00am

Guangzhou residents are firmly against the local government's plan to build a massive waste incinerator, highlighting the mainland's growing problem with refuse disposal and a lack of trust in authorities' ability to deliver on environmental promises.

More than 97 per cent of 1,550 people surveyed by Guangdong Provincial Research Centre, a think tank for provincial leaders, said they did not want a second incinerator built in the city, the China News Service reported yesterday.

A report based on the survey has been sent to Mayor Zhang Guangning as a petition.

Guangzhou's first incinerator was built in Liken in 2006, and the second was to be located in Dashi, Panyu district . The local government said European experience showed incinerators had little impact on public health and the environment, but 93 per cent of survey respondents said they did not trust this promise.

Dashi is home to a number of large residential developments and most people feared the release of dioxins, which can cause cancer. People living near the first incinerator have complained of increased air pollution and rising cancer rates since it opened.

About 92 per cent of the respondents were unhappy with the officials' lack of transparency and failure to listen to residents before building refuse facilities.

Authorities invested 725 million yuan (HK$824 million) in the first incinerator, which is in Baiyun district and run by a French company. According to authorities, it supplies enough power for 100,000 homes.

Lv Zhiyi, director general of the City Appearance, Environment and Sanitation Bureau, said in September that construction of the 930 million yuan Dashi incinerator would be started as soon as possible and it could open next year. Once opened, the plant would handle 2,000 tonnes of rubbish per day.

His words sparked alarm among Panyu residents, who protested and filed petitions.

The rapidly expanding volume of rubbish is proving a major headache for authorities and giving rise to disputes across the mainland.

Tens of thousands of residents in Wujiang, Jiangsu province , protested outside government offices last month to stop operating an incinerator. Authorities agreed to suspend the plant.

In September, the South China Morning Post reported that more than 20 people were taken into custody in Beijing after they protested against the construction of an incinerator in a high-end district.

While authorities point to European safety standards, many people lack confidence in commitments on ensuring the incinerators are safe, citing a string of pollution scandals caused by poor management, lax safety standards and lack of supervision. Environmentalists say governments should focus on encouraging people to produce less waste, rather than building more incinerators.

Rubbish idea

Waste disposal is becoming an ever more sensitive issue

Of the 1,550 Guangzhou people surveyed, the proportion that said they did not want a second incinerator was: 97%