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Guiyang residents plan protest against waste incinerator

Saturday, 06 July, 2013, 12:00am



Olivia Rosenman

Guiyang residents angry about plans to build waste incinerator near a built-up area; authorities cancel consultation meeting

Guiyang residents plan to march on a local government headquarters today to protest against a planned incinerator to be built near residential areas in the Guizhou capital.

Organisers expect 300 people to turn out to voice their opposition to the plant, which they say will emit toxic air pollution and contaminate their water supply.

One organiser said the group wanted the government to move the site at least 10 kilometres from residential areas.

The current location for the incinerator is just 3 kilometres from a community of around 50,000 people, including schools and a hospital, on the northern side of the city.

A public hearing on the environmental impact assessment for the incinerator had been planned for Monday, but has been postponed indefinitely.

A spokesman for the local ecological construction bureau said by phone yesterday that the agency had been overwhelmed with registrations and was trying to find a larger venue for the hearing. A Guiyang resident who signed up for the hearing, said she received a text message telling her the hearing had been postponed because “more preparations” are needed.

“I’m worried about the negative impact,” said the woman, who lives about 6 kilometres from the proposed site. “But I feel I don’t know enough about it, which is why I wanted to attend the hearing.”

Garbage incineration is often associated with high emissions of dioxin gases, which are highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and cause cancer, according to the World Health Organisation.

“People can be exposed to these pollutants via inhalation or by touching the soil or eating the food grown locally”, said Mao Da, a researcher with Nature University, a Beijing-based environmental group.

Mao said high concentrations of pollutants usually persist up to 3 kilometres from an incinerator. Although concentrations fall beyond that radius, they are still not necessarily safe.

“There is some evidence that Chinese incinerators emit very high levels of dioxins and mercury,” Mao said.

“So if we evaluate the distance based on the Chinese reality, it will be very different from standards in other countries like Japan, Germany and Denmark.”

The frequency of environmental protests is increasing on the mainland.

In May, thousands of Kunming residents in mobilised against a petrochemical plant. The same weekend, a similar protest planned in Chengdu , Sichuan , was quashed by thousands of police who took to the streets to deter would-be protesters.

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