GUANGZHOU - In an effort to promote garbage incineration technology, authorities have invited citizens to visit the city's largest incinerator.
As of Tuesday, some 300 people have submitted applications to the Guangzhou city administration committee for inspection of the Likeng garbage incineration plant, which resumed operations on March 13.
The plant had suspended activity for nearly two months shortly after a sudden explosion in the early hours of Jan 7, which left five workers injured.
The explosion, caused by a sudden burst of the plant's primary water-cooling pipeline, triggered public concern over incineration safety and pollution.
After the incident, authorities insisted that the plant, which began functioning in 2005, had been operating efficiently as an environmental-friendly project.
"We have invested some 3 million yuan ($439,522) to renovate the plant, including building more green space and upgrading facilities," said Li Tinggui, director of the Guangzhou urban administration committee.
Following its renovation, the plant has been selected as an educational site for Guangzhou's environmentally friendly projects.
"Incineration plants, if they are built strictly in accordance with environmental protection regulations, should be promoted. They play an effective role in tackling the problem of an increasing amount of garbage in big cities," Li told China Daily on Tuesday.
The second phase of the Likeng plant is still under construction and will soon become operational, according to Li.
"More advanced facilities will be introduced in the second phase of the project to ensure less pollution and to minimize the risks to the health of people living nearby," Li said.
Previous media reports said that a growing number of villagers near the plant have died of cancer as a result of the emissions of pollutants from burning rubbish.
However, citing a survey of people in Yongxin village, which is located near the plant, the local disease control and prevention center stated that the cancer-related deaths had nothing to do with the operation of the incinerator.
"There is no clear evidence that burning garbage has caused an increase in the incidence of cancer. The death rate in Yongxin village has remained stable in recent years. There has not been a sharp increase in the number of deaths due to cancer," Li said.
The local environmental protection bureau has also sent experts to supervise the operation of the Likeng plant after it resumed operations.
"The discharge of waste water and gas in the plant has been kept well within national safety limits," Li said.
Guangzhou, the capital city of Guangdong province, produces an average of 12,000 tons of garbage a day.
Authorities there have planned to build more incinerators, but the construction of another large plant in the Panyu district has been suspended due to opposition from local citizens over environmental and health concerns.