In an attempt to stop people from protesting garbage incinerators, officials here are maintaining that no death and cancer cases are directly related to burning trash in this way, officials said.
"It is a rumor that the number of death or cancer cases rised after the garbage incinerator in Likeng was put into operation three years ago," said Su Zequn, vice-mayor of Guangzhou.
Su was responding to opposition from the public to the building of two more planned incinerators in the city's Panyu and Huadu districts.
"We have to let the public be aware that burning trash in advanced and environmentally friendly facilities is an ideal option for the city to deal with the rising amount of garbage," Su said.
Local residents' resistance has succeeded in blocking the government's plan to build a major garbage incinerator in this southern city's densely populated Panyu district.
In a public meeting with at least 56 resident representatives on Sunday, Tan Yinghua, the district's Party secretary, said the garbage project planned in Huijiang village had been suspended due to a wide range of protests from residents nearby in the process of environmental assessment.
"Experts have stopped writing the environmental assessment report and all bidding processes have been halted," Tan said. "We need to draw up a new comprehensive plan for garbage treatment."
Local authorities said earlier that the Panyu project would not be started until 2012 after a thorough debate among experts, government officials and residents and environmental assessments.
"All decisions would be made after thorough discussion with residents," Tan said.
More than 1,000 local residents protested at the Guangzhou government office buildings to oppose construction of the Panyu project, which was initiated early in 2002.
Earlier reports said villagers near the Likeng plant, the country's largest garbage treatment project of its kind, confirmed more than 50 deaths from cancer after its operation.
"We have attached great importance to villagers' complaints. But medical reports from health authorities and hospitals show that no deaths and cancer cases are directly related to the trash-fired project," Su said.
The operator of the Likeng project said modern equipment helps stop pollution.
"Experienced operation and state-of-the-art facilities will help minimize pollution when burning trash," said Francois Guyon, general manager of the plant.
However, villagers said air and water quality has gotten worse since its operation.
"We have to get drinking water outside of the village. Water in the wells can no longer be used," a 72-year-old resident surnamed Huang told China Daily.
"Some people have left the village due to health concerns."