Protest over incinerator subsides after Wuhan local govt calls for public consultations

By Wang Qi Source:Global Times Published: 2019/7/8 0:08:21

Local authorities in Central China's Hubei Province said the protests against an incineration plant development have cooled after the government vowed the project would not begin without residents' approval. 

The local government's response was issued after residents took to the streets of Yangluo in Wuhan, capital city of Hubei Province, to protest a new waste incineration facility in Xinzhou District, local residents told the Global Times on Thursday. 

An official from Xinzhou's publicity department responsible for Yangluo, told the Global Times on Sunday that the protest had cooled down, noting that the government officials were sincere in communicating with residents and listened to their concerns. 

The incineration plant was at the proposal stage and had yet to make substantial progress. Government officials will hear from local residents before making a decision, the official explained.  

The incineration project was first introduced 10 years ago as the city only had one garbage landfill, which was not an ideal long-term solution, the official also explained.

Following Shanghai's garbage sorting initiative, the official said that waste disposal must keep up with the times. But the incineration project has led to misunderstandings among local residents.

"We are fearful that the plant is too close to residence area," an anonymous participant told the Global Times on Sunday.

Another local resident told the Global Times there was some violence during the protest. "I saw people throwing water bottles at the police and laughing," the resident said. 

The publicity official noted how the police handled the violence in a controlled manner. 

"They were pressuring the police by causing a traffic jam, and the police were hoping that they would restore order and divert them to the other side of the road. But before the police moving, some people started throwing water bottles at them. We did not want to antagonize the residents and were very restrained from beginning to end," said the official. 

Wuhan's urban management administration said in response to online criticism last month the city was planning a refuse incineration power plant project in Chenjiachong, site of the current waste landfill.

Xinzhou District officials issued a statement on its Weibo account explaining how they attached great importance to local residents' opinions, and said, "the project will never start if people disagree with it." 

The construction of incineration plant has long been a source of controversy in China, and attention has grown following protests of an incineration project in Xiantao, Central China's Hubei Province. 

Some 10,000 city residents staged a protest in June 2016 over a waste incineration plant, despite the local government's claim it would suspend the project.

While there is need to build new recycling facilities with modern technologies due to waste increase and outdated facilities, analysts have said the reasons behind the public outcry was related to insufficient communication between the government and the public. 

Analysts also noted that emissions monitoring along with a lack of transparency in sharing emissions data with the public helped stir complaints. 

Allowing residents to participate in accessing and supervising the project from the beginning could help ease concern and build public confidence, the analysts added.

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