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Beijing's Largest Garbage Treatment Plant Under Construction
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Beijing has begun building a new garbage treatment plant that is designed to generate 38 million kilowatt-hours of electricity a year out of methane.


The plant, covering 23,460 square meters in Taihu town in the Tongzhou District on the city's eastern outskirts, will become operational at the end of next year, said sources with Beijing Construction Engineering Group, the prime contractor for the project.


Designed to be the city's largest garbage treatment center, the plant will dispose of 650 tons of urban waste daily, including 200 tons of kitchen waste from the downtown districts of Chongwen and Chaoyang.


The 184-million-yuan (US$23 million) project will produce 22 million cubic meters of methane gas annually to fuel four power generators installed at the facility, said Liang Guangsheng, chairman of Beijing Urban Environment and Hygiene Group.


Environment workers around the globe are seeking ways to convert urban waste into energy resources and experts say a ton of kitchen waste produces around 100 cubic meters of gas fuel.


Effective central disposal of kitchen waste would also prevent dealers from illegally bringing contaminated food and vegetable oil back to the dinner table, Liang said.


The plant would also produce organic fertilizer for farmers and forestry workers, he added.


The plant will have a waste classification unit that separates garbage for incineration from other waste to minimize air pollution. It will also use state-of-the-art technologies to prevent waste being attacked by anaerobic bacteria that produce offensive odors, said a statement from Beijing Construction Engineering Group.


The new facility is one of the major environment protection projects the Beijing municipal government announced in 2002 in an effort to improve the city's environment for the 2008 Olympic Games.


Beijing has promised to build two more urban garbage disposal plants and 12 sewage treatment centers ahead of the event.


The city will cremate 40 percent of its urban garbage, recycle 30 percent and bury the remaining 30 percent by 2008, according to Beijing Municipal Administrative Committee.


At present, 70 percent of China's urban waste is stockpiled, about 20 percent cremated and 10 percent recycled.


A 2005 satellite survey found more than 7,000 garbage heaps in the suburbs of Beijing, each covering at least 50 square meters.


Meanwhile, two-thirds of China's 668 cities are surrounded by garbage that often ends up stockpiling, taking up farmland and emitting foul odors.


(Xinhua News Agency November 14, 2006)

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