GUANGZHOU: More than 1,000 residents in this southern metropolis raised a stink yesterday over plans to build a massive garbage incinerator in the heart of the Pearl River Delta.
The protest outside a government office building was the latest salvo in a growing dispute between residents and local authorities' perceived hard line over the project.
The residents were fired up after hearing that the authorities would build the garbage incinerator once an "environmental assessment is approved".
The residents say they want input into the decision-making process.
The incinerator, which proponents want to build in Huijiang village of Panyu, in Guangzhou, will be capable of handling around 2,000 tons of garbage a day. Local authorities say such a facility is sorely needed.
However, agitated locals who gathered to shout slogans, wave banners and demand the suspension of the project, said things are moving too fast.
"We are here to ask for positive feedback from the government," said Lu An, a local concerned about the health risks of the project.
The Guangzhou center of urban construction and administration received a petition from the protesters yesterday, but only a handful of disgruntled residents got the chance to meet officials.
"We are not satisfied with the way the authorities have dealt with us. So we all, voluntarily, moved to the government office building to grab their attention," Lu said.
Protesters demanded the resignation of Lu Zhiyi, deputy general-secretary of Guangzhou government, who had said the city was ready to build more garbage incinerators to deal with the growing need for trash treatment facilities.
"It is a preferred option for us to build more incinerators, since Guangzhou is facing rising piles of garbage. We will scientifically select places for such construction outside dense residential areas," Lu Zhiyi said at a press conference on Sunday.
Lu An, meanwhile, said residents' fears about health impacts were hard to shake.
"Villagers near another garbage incinerator (Likeng incinerator, in Baiyun district of Guangzhou) confirmed more than 50 deaths from cancer after its operation," he said.
He added that residents near the incinerator were forced to get drinking water from outside the village because of fear about water pollution.
Government representatives insisted at a press conference on Sunday that no cancer cases had been reported among workers at the facility referred to by Lu.
Feng Shengping, a researcher with Guangdong provincial situation study and research center, said: "Not all garbage should be burned. As far as we know, nearly 70 percent of trash in urban areas should be recycled."