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Greater scrutiny for waste project

CHINA'S environmental watchdog has suspended a controversial waste-fueled power plant project in Beijing until further impact studies are carried out.

The Liulitun project in the northwest of the Chinese capital must go through further feasibility studies and greater public scrutiny, Zhu Xingxiang, head of the Ministry of Environmental Protection's pollution prevention division, said yesterday.

The experts' assessment and results of the public scrutiny must be submitted to the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Environmental Protection for approval, he said.

The bureau must then inform the public if it chooses to approve the project, Zhu said. "The project must not start without informing the public first."

The proposal to build a waste-fueled power plant was unveiled in March 2007 and aroused the anger of residents living nearby.

It is one of four such plants planned for Beijing, and the 8-million-yuan (US$1.17 million) plant is expected to burn 1,200 tonnes of waste a day.

Residents in the neighbourhood were worried about discharges from the plant and pollution of underground water, and they also feared such a plant would kill their hope of closing a local waste dump after living with its stench for 10 years.

The power plant project was suspended by Beijing's environmental administration following protests, saying it had to do more research on the environmental impact and solicit and consider the opinions of local residents.

The suspension of such projects has left the local government with a growing waste disposal problem with dumps filling up in the city - a dilemma increasingly faced by Beijing and many other Chinese cities.

Vice Minister Wu Xiaoqing said waste-fueled power plant technology and waste incineration had been used in other countries for 30 to 40 years and could be employed in waste disposal in China.

Wu said the ministry was working on the management of discharges of dioxides from such power plants.


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