GUANGZHOU: Construction of a major garbage incinerator in this southern metropolis will not begin until environmental assessments of the project are approved, officials said Sunday.
The decision followed public feedback on the project.
"We will also organize a series of activities to promote awareness of the incinerator," Ye Zhiwen, deputy director of the Panyu district urban landscape bureau in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, told a press conference yesterday.
The plant is expected to take the place of two small landfills at Huijiang village in the city's Panyu district and handle 2,000 tons of trash a day.
The project will meet the rising demands of garbage treatment in Panyu, Ye said.
Panyu, which has a population of 2.5 million, produced about 600,000 tons of garbage last year, or 1,640 tons a day, he said.
"We expect some 2,200 tons of garbage a day by 2010. We could not find a large landfill to deal with the rising garbage due to limited land resources," Ye said.
"Facing the rising demand of garbage treatment, the incinerator is currently the right option for us."
Following a wide range of opposition from nearby residents, the Panyu urban landscape authority issued a notice at the end of last month to solicit public opinion and organized a team of experts to conduct environmental assessments of the project.
Ye did not reveal when the environmental assessments would be completed.
"If we do not introduce new ways to deal with garbage, Guangzhou will be surrounded by piles of garbage in the years ahead," Ye said.
The Panyu district urban planning authority issued a selection paper about a site for the project in August 2006, but it was only approved by the local land resources bureau in April this year.
Residents only learned in September that the project might be built in their neighborhood.
"Government authorities never asked for our opinion about the project before September," said Chen Qi, a resident in the Star River community, which is about 5 km away from the proposed site. Residents like Chen have opposed the construction of the incinerator.
About 92 percent of respondents believe the project would seriously harm their health and the natural environment and more than 97 percent oppose the construction, a recent survey by the Guangdong provincial social research and study center showed.
"How can operators and government authorities ensure less pollution after this project is put into operation?" asked Chen.
Lu Zhiyi, deputy secretary-general of Guangzhou government, said authorities would introduce state-of-the-art technology from overseas in order to minimize pollution.