Coming to Beijing: More waste incineration projects

By Cui Xiaohuo and Zhang Yan (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-01-26 11:32
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Beijing government officials said yesterday they will proceed with plans to build more waste incineration plants this year, despite some local residents and experts voicing protests and concerns over pollution brought by the controversial technology.

Building waste treatment projects, incineration plants in particular, is the way to tackle the capital's 18,000 tons of garbage produced each day, Guo Jinlong, mayor of Beijing, told the ongoing annual legislative meeting, which started yesterday.

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"The government will push forward the current waste incineration projects and rebuild a number of waste treatment and trash burial sites that meet environmental standards," the mayor said in his annual work report.

Beijing's Vice Mayor Huang Wei also told reporters at the meeting that the government considers incineration to be the most efficient way to dispose of waste for the city of 18 million.

"Can anybody provide a better solution than incineration?" the official asked reporters on Sunday. "I've learned that incineration plants can be pollution-free. The public should not have too much fear over the method."

Residents in several locations in Beijing have protested existing or planned waste incineration projects near their homes for concerns over fears of environmental pollution that authorities may hide from them.

But some local campaigners have told China Daily the government might have dropped the environmental damaging projects after angry residents in the city of Guangzhou recently forced local authorities to give up a major incineration project.

"If the Beijing authorities back down on their plan, they may not want to say it out loud," said a campaigner living near the planned Asuwei incineration project in north Beijing's Changping district yesterday. The campaigner did not want to be named.

A local legislator said yesterday the current deadlock over incineration between authorities and the public is the result of a series of mistakes by the government.

"The public protested over incineration not because they don't understand that such technologies are safe in western countries, but because they know that measures against pollution have been feeble in most places nationwide," Wang Weiping, the vice chief engineer of the Beijing municipal commission of administration, supervising garbage disposal citywide, told China Daily.

"Because certain administrations are not supervising their areas well, an incineration plant that meets environmental standards in construction may be a major pollutant source in operation," said the specialist.

The Beijing mayor also said yesterday that authorities will reinforce measures for garbage classification and the recycling of thousands of tons of food waste.