Two more rallies against building of trash incinerators

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 January, 2010, 12:00am

The tug of war between government and residents over controversial incinerator projects in Guangdong is showing no signs of easing, with protests in two cities in the past two days.

Residents of Guangzhou's Likeng village said nearly a thousand took to the streets in two groups yesterday morning, with one group gathering outside the city government's urban management headquarters and another outside the city government headquarters.

They demanded that construction of a second incinerator near their neighbourhood be scrapped because of fears that it would cause more cancer cases.

A day earlier, more than 400 residents from Foshan's Gaoming district wearing surgical masks, mobilised by an internet forum posting, demonstrated against construction of the Jiangnan sludge incinerator in Nanhai district, Guangzhou Daily reported yesterday.

Guangzhou's garbage problem is a sensitive issue, with the Asian Games host's main urban landfill in Xinfeng bursting at the seams and facing closure by 2012.

The site handles most of urban Guangzhou's 8,000 tonnes of rubbish a day. If no other viable solution is found by then, Guangzhou's trash will be literally on the streets.

To deal with the problem, the government has been building and planning incinerators across the city. However, the programme has been met by fierce local demonstrations, forcing many plans to be put on hold.

Yesterday, residents of Likeng village chanted slogans to demand that plans for a second incinerator be scrapped immediately. They were forbidden from waving placards.

One demonstrator said requests to meet officials at the city government headquarters were not met and they were greeted by 80 police instead. 'And there are about another 50 armed police officers standing by,' he said. 'We were going to march to the provincial government office but were blocked and told to leave.'

In the village, he said, grandmothers in their 70s and 80s tried to block construction each day, but the authorities did not seem to care about their plight. Some reporters had their cameras confiscated and others were taken away for questioning.

The crowds dispersed peacefully in the afternoon.

Professor He Guowei of Guangzhou University's environmental science and engineering faculty said the authorities would go ahead with construction of incinerators despite strong public opposition.

'The authorities are going to go ahead with building incinerators but most probably with a slight delay after what happened in Likeng village is now out in the spotlight,' she said.

Likeng village residents say the number of cancer cases rose sharply after the city's first rubbish-fired power station was built in nearby Baiyun district in 2005.

Guangzhou's Health Bureau says their claim is groundless and all emissions from the incinerator met national safety standards.