Source:Global Times Published: 2016-7-7 By Zhao Yusha and Liu Xin
Emissions monitored at under 40% of facilities
Emissions from waste incineration plants across China generally exceed national standard, especially in East China's Zhejiang and Fujian provinces, where emissions were found to be several thousand times higher than standard limits, said a recent report.
The report published Wednesday by Friends of Nature and the Wuhu Ecology Center, two environmental protection nongovernmental organizations, showed that less than 40 percent of 231 incineration plants in operation in the country are subject to monitoring.
Furthermore, monitoring results have been published for only 77 of the 104 plants that were being monitored in 2015 and 2016.
Waste incineration is a lucrative industry, because the government subsidizes these incinerators, even though they can also earn money from the public through channels such as garbage fees, Zhang Boju, chief executive director of Friends of Nature, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
As a result, private incinerators have proliferated in recent years. However, many of these facilities are reluctant to update or maintain their equipment because of high costs, leading to excessive emissions, said Zhang.
China began implementing a new pollution control standard for municipal solid waste incineration facilities on January 1, placing stricter limits on the emission of pollutants like dioxin, a compound that is toxic to humans.
The Wuhu Ecology Center asked environmental bureaus in 33 cities for monitoring results for 64 incinerators in the first three quarters of 2015, but only received replies from 16 bureaus and monitoring results for six incinerators, two of which had dioxin emissions that exceeded the new standard, the report said.
The Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection has ruled against enterprises whose emissions exceed standard, but there are no rules specifically targeting incinerator operators.
When a business's discharge of pollutants exceeds standards, environmental protection administrations at or above the county level may order it to restrict production. Under grave circumstances, the business will be ordered to suspend its operations.
The construction of incineration plants has long been a source of controversy in China, and attention to the issue has grown following protests of an incineration project in Xiantao, Central China's Hubei Province. Some 10,000 city residents staged a 2-day protest in June against plans to construct a waste incineration plant, despite the local government's claim that it would suspend the project.
Many Chinese cities are facing the dilemma of how to deal with their burgeoning garbage burden.
According to 2010 figures, Beijing produced 18,000 tons of garbage per day, but the city was only able to manage 10,000 tons of garbage per day.
"Both landfills and incineration plants can cause damage to the environment. We should use different technologies to turn garbage into a resource," Zhao Zhangyuan, a research fellow at the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, told the Global Times.