2nd Chinese city in a week halts trash incinerator plans

BEIJING, China – For the second time in a week, a Chinese city has announced it would halt plans for a garbage incinerator project following angry protests by residents that underscore growing concern over threats to public health.

The government of Nanxian (NAN’-she-ahn) in the southern province of Hunan said Thursday in a public notice that it would cease all work related to the project and would not start up again without public support.

China is faced with the mounting challenge of disposing solid waste generated in ever-larger cities. However, public distrust runs deep as people question their local governments’ ability to properly plan, build and manage trash incinerators.

When those projects move ahead, public anger is often stirred over fears they would cause air, water and soil pollution.

Without a voice inside the city hall, residents usually resort to street protests. Local governments tend to cave in to calm public sentiments and keep order, while seeking to punish those who have initiated the protests, leaving garbage disposal an unsolved problem.

Last Friday, the Haiyan county government in the eastern province of Zhejiang halted plans for a trash incinerator after rowdy streets protests.

In Nanxian, hundreds took to the street on Monday and Tuesday to protest the project citing pollution concerns, overseas Chinese news sites reported.

A man who answered the phone at the propaganda office of the county government said about 200 residents had protested with some actions he described as “extreme.”

The man, who gave only his surname Liao as is common with Chinese bureaucrats, did not elaborate and said there had been no clash between the protesters and police and no one was injured during the demonstration.

Police had not detained anyone but were investigating the protest, Liao said.

A notice from the local government urged residents not to take extreme measures or spread rumours.