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China’s Largest Waste-To-Energy System Heads For Shenzhen

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The second phase of the Bao’an Waste-to-Energy Plant, which is invested in by Shenzhen Energy and Environment Company, is expected to be the largest of its kind in China with a daily production capacity of 4,200 tons.

It is learned that Shenzhen produces 12,074 tons of waste are being yielded in Shenzhen every day. Though city has set up seven waste incineration power plants with a total capacity of 4,875 tons per day, it can still not meet the increasing demand.

At present, SEEC incinerates 2,450 tons of waste each day, which accounts for 50% of the city’s total waste incineration. In addition, the company has three projects under construction which are expected to add a daily capacity of 6,300 tons for the city.

Set up in 1997, SEEC is one of the major waste disposal companies in Shenzhen.

China’s Incinerators Loom as a Global Hazard

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A worker shoveled trash at the Baoan incinerator in Shenzhen, which also generates power.



Published: August 11, 2009

SHENZHEN, China— In this sprawling metropolis in southeastern China stand two hulking brown buildings erected by a private company, theLonggang trash incinerators. They can be smelled a mile away and pour out so much dark smoke and hazardous chemicals that hundreds of local residents recently staged an all-day sit-in, demanding that the incinerators be cleaner and that a planned third incinerator not be built nearby.

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Timothy O’Rourke for The New York Times

A truck delivering trash to the Baoan incinerator in Shenzhen, China. The incinerator is relatively clean, but is also costly.

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Timothy O’Rourke for The New York Times

Zhong Rigang, the chief engineer at the Baoan incinerator, saw little enthusiasm among the public for recycling.

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Timothy O’Rourke for The New York Times

The Longgang incinerators in Shenzhen were the focus of a recent all-day sit-in by hundreds of local residents.

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After surpassing the United States as the world’s largest producer of household garbage, China has embarked on a vast program to build incinerators as landfills run out of space. But these incinerators have become a growing source of toxic emissions, from dioxin to mercury, that can damage the body’s nervous system.

And these pollutants, particularly long-lasting substances like dioxin and mercury, are dangerous not only in China, a growing body of atmospheric research based on satellite observations suggests. They float on air currents across the Pacific to American shores.

Chinese incinerators can be better. At the other end of Shenzhen from Longgang, no smoke is visible from the towering smokestack of the Baoanincinerator, built by a company owned by the municipal government. Government tests show that it emits virtually no dioxin and other pollutants.

But the Baoan incinerator cost 10 times as much as the Longgang incinerators, per ton of trash-burning capacity.

The difference between the Baoan and Longgang incinerators lies at the center of a growing controversy in China. Incinerators are being built to wildly different standards across the country and even across cities like Shenzhen. For years Chinese government regulators have discussed the need to impose tighter limits on emissions. But they have done nothing because of a bureaucratic turf war, a Chinese government official and Chinese incineration experts said.

The Chinese government is struggling to cope with the rapidly rising mountains of trash generated as the world’s most populated country has raced from poverty to rampant consumerism. Beijing officials warned in June that all of the city’s landfills would run out of space within five years.

The governments of several cities with especially affluent, well-educated citizens, including Beijing and Shanghai, are setting pollution standards as strict as Europe’s. Despite those standards, protests against planned incinerators broke out this spring in Beijing and Shanghai as well as Shenzhen.

Increasingly outspoken residents in big cities are deeply distrustful that incinerators will be built and operated to international standards. “It’s hard to say whether this standard will be reached — maybe the incinerator is designed to reach this benchmark, but how do we know it will be properly operated?” said Zhao Yong, a computer server engineer who has become a neighborhood activist in Beijing against plans for an incinerator there.

Yet far dirtier incinerators continue to be built in inland cities where residents have shown little awareness of pollution.

Studies at the University of Washington and the Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, Ill., have estimated that a sixth of the mercury now falling on North American lakes comes from Asia, particularly China, mainly from coal-fired plants and smelters but also from incinerators. Pollution from incinerators also tends to be high in toxic metals like cadmium.

Incinerators play the most important role in emissions of dioxin. Little research has been done on dioxin crossing the Pacific. But analyses of similar chemicals have shown that they can travel very long distances.

A 2005 report from the World Bank warned that if China built incinerators rapidly and did not limit their emissions, worldwide atmospheric levels of dioxin could double. China has since slowed its construction of incinerators and limited their emissions somewhat, but the World Bank has yet to do a follow-up report.

Airborne dioxin is not the only problem from incinerators. The ash left over after combustion is laced with dioxin and other pollutants. Zhong Rigang, the chief engineer at the Baoan incinerator here, said that his operation sent its ash to a special landfill designed to cope with toxic waste. But an academic paper last year by Nie Yongfeng, a Tsinghua University professor and government adviser who sees a need for more incinerators, said that most municipal landfills for toxic waste lacked room for the ash, so the ash was dumped.

Trash incinerators have two advantages that have prompted Japan and much of Europe to embrace them: they occupy much less real estate than landfills, and the heat from burning trash can be used to generate electricity. The Baoan incinerator generates enough power to light 40,000 households.

And landfills have their own environmental hazards. Decay in landfills also releases large quantities of methane, a powerful global warming gas, said Robert McIlvaine, president of McIlvaine Company, an energy consulting firm that calculates the relative costs of addressing disparate environmental hazards. Methane from landfills is a far bigger problem in China than toxic pollutants from incinerators, particularly modern incinerators like those inBaoan, he said.

China’s national regulations still allow incinerators to emit 10 times as much dioxin as incinerators in the European Union; American standards are similar to those in Europe. Tightening of China’s national standards has been stuck for three years in a bureaucratic war between the environment ministry and the main economic planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, said a Beijing official who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the subject publicly.

The agencies agree that tighter standards on dioxin emissions are needed. They disagree on whether the environment ministry should have the power to stop incinerator projects that do not meet tighter standards, the official said, adding that the planning agency wants to retain the power to decide which projects go ahead.

Yan Jianhua, the director of the solid waste treatment expert group in Zhejiang province, a center of incinerator equipment manufacturing in China, defended the industry’s record on dioxin, saying that households that burn their trash outdoors emit far more dioxin.

“Open burning is a bigger problem according to our research,” Professor Yan said, adding that what China really needs is better trash collection so that garbage can be disposed of more reliably.

Critics and admirers of incinerators alike call for more recycling and reduced use of packaging as ways to reduce the daily volume of municipal garbage. Even when not recycled, sorted trash is easier for incinerators to burn cleanly, because the temperature in the furnace can be adjusted more precisely to minimize the formation of dioxin.

Yet the Chinese public has

shown little enthusiasm for recycling. As Mr. Zhong, the engineer at the Baoan incinerator, put it, “No one really cares.”

Keppel Seghers is currently one of the leading providers for imported WTE solutions in China. Its in-house technology is supplied for the expansion of an existing WTE plant in Shenzhen, Guangdong.

Keppel Seghers’ technology will enable the facility to treat an additional 3,000 tonnes to the existing 1,200 tonnes of municipal waste per day. When completed, the WTE plant will be the largest in China with an eventual capacity to treat 4,200 tonnes of municipal waste per day.

The existing WTE plant’s key components were also provided by Keppel Seghers in 1999, when it was built. Back then, the plant was also the largest WTE plant in China.

Heated opposition feared for city’s incinerator plan

Updated: 2011-09-17 08:06

By Zheng Caixiong (China Daily)

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SHENZHEN, Guangdong – The government of the special economic zone is having trouble finding a location for the construction of a gigantic garbage incinerator.

Lu Ruifeng, executive deputy mayor of Shenzhen, said the city plans to build the world’s largest garbage incinerator, with a designed capacity to handle more than 5,000 tons of garbage a day.

“But it is really a headache to choose the right location for the project,” Lu said.

Lu made the remarks while meeting with Chen Xiaochuan, vice-chairwoman of the Guangdong Provincial People’s Congress, who was leading a group of deputies from the province’s legislative body to inspect the city’s environmental protection work early this week.

Although Lu did not reveal what the problems were, insiders said the city government worried the project could meet opposition from people living near any chosen location.

In Guangzhou, about 100 kilometers away from Shenzhen, the city government had to postpone construction of a similar project in its Panyu district last year because of residents’ strong opposition.

After the Guangzhou government chose a site in the Panyu district to build its garbage incinerator in late 2009, the overwhelming majority of nearby residents signed a petition to oppose the project. They were worried it would pollute the environment and harm their health.

As a result, the Guangdong provincial government had to make concession and announced it would postpone construction.

The Guangzhou garbage incinerator project had also stirred controversy among environmental experts and scholars.

Zhao Zhangyuan, a retired researcher for the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, said incineration will cause pollution.

“Burning garbage produces many poisonous gases, even when advanced technology and equipment are used,” said Zhao, who strongly opposed construction of the project.

Guangzhou authorities are now looking for a different site to build their garbage incinerator.

But Xu Haiyun, chief engineer with the China Urban Construction Design and Research Institute, said garbage incinerators will not pose health risks because the gases discharged would be strictly in line with the country’s standards.

“There is a garbage incinerator in downtown Bonn, Germany, and similar facilities have been constructed in Japan,” Xu said.

Lu Ruifeng promised Shenzhen’s garbage incinerator would use the world’s most advanced technologies, equipment and management system and uphold the strictest discharge standards to avoid polluting the environment.

“Shenzhen, a densely populated city that lacks land resources, will treat its waste mainly through burning in the future, in addition to burying and composting,” Lu said.

According to Lu, Shenzhen’s treatment rate of consumer waste will exceed 80 percent in 2015.

In addition, a number of garbage treatment facilities will be built or expanded in the coming years.

Yin Qingwei, a Shenzhen white-collar worker, said the city needs to build a big garbage incinerator to deal with its growing garbage problem.

“But the government should carefully consider the public opinion and seek suggestions from residents to choose the right location,” he said.

Construction should not start before the majority of residents have reached an agreement with the government, he added.

China Daily

Shenzhen plans world’s largest incinerator

Apr 6th, 2012

by Editor.

Choi Chi-yuk and Cheung Chi-fai

Sep 15, 2011

Shenzhen plans to build the “world’s largest” rubbish incinerator, capable of processing 5,000 tonnes a day, in an effort to cope with the almost five million tonnes of domestic waste produced by the city each year.

Lu Ruifeng, the city’s executive vice-mayor, told a group of Guangdong provincial People’s Congress delegates on Tuesday that because its landfills could no longer cope with the growing trash pile produced by its 13 million residents, the city was planning to build the world’s largest incinerator, the Guangzhou-based Nanfang Daily reported yesterday.

Lu said public consultations had been held on site selection. He admitted that where to put the incinerator was one of the most challenging problems for the project.

The Nanfang Daily said Shenzhen planned to build three waste incinerators by 2015 to burn 80 per cent of the city’s rubbish. It said two of the plants would be in Laohukeng andNanshandistrict, both in the west of the city, with the third to be built at an unspecified site in the city’s east.

A report in the Guangzhou Daily said Shenzhen had three waste incineration plants in the pipeline, capable of processing a total of 6,300 tonnes of rubbish a day.

Lu said that in order to meet environmental protection standards for the incinerator’s emissions – smell, liquid, ash residue and airborne ash particles – it would make use of mechanical grate technology to improve combustion. It would also adopt advanced management and stick to the highest global air quality standards, the Nanfang Daily reported.

It said Shenzhen was dealing with 4.8 million tonnes of trash a year.

Michelle Au Wing-tze, senior environmental affairs officer at Friends of the Earth (Hong Kong), said Shenzhen was taking a wrong path in waste management.

“Guangzhou has just started to ask people to separate and recycle waste, but Shenzhen is heading in the opposite direction,” she said.

“It is definitely not an image boost to tell others the incinerator will be the world’s largest.”

Au said that if the incinerator had any adverse environmental impacts, like dioxin pollution, it would not just hit Shenzhen and Hong Kong but could spread far beyond the region.

Last year, the daily per capita waste disposal rate in Shenzhen was 1.26kg, compared to 1.28kgin Hong Kong and 0.77kg in Guangzhou.

Hong Kong is also planning to build a large incinerator, with a capacity of 3,000 tonnes a day, on a reclaimed site at Shek Kwu Chau, south of Lantau Island. Environment officials have not ruled out the need to build an extra incinerator to cope with mounting waste.

Waste incineration projects are a sensitive issue in Guangdong, with proposals for new plants often met by fierce local demonstrations, forcing plans to be put on hold. In January, more than 1,000 residents from two districts of Guangzhou staged separate protests against incinerator projects near their neighbourhoods.

Growing environmental awareness among mainlanders as living standards have improved in recent years have fuelled more protests over environmental concerns.

Copyright (c) 2011. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved

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