Life on a wasteland

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Global Times, February 24, 2010
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Shui Ge landfill, with a daily waste disposal capacity of 2,600 tons, is located in the Jiangning district of Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province. It attracts many rag pickers every day. The city's Bureau of Urban Utilities and Landscaping plans to abandon the landfill by 2012. [CFP]

"Stinky! Garbage mountain!" squeals Lele, a 2-year-old toddler, pointing his tiny finger to a hill heaped with garbage in front of his house.

The little boy is the son of Axia, a villager in Yuanfeng, Humen county, under the prefecture of Dongguan, Guangdong Province.

"It smells so bad that I have to shut my doors and windows after getting up in the morning," says Axia, who must live with the reeking stench of a garbage dump 800 meters away from his house. "We have to stay indoors day and night."

"Garbage Mountain" is a landfill in the Dalingshan forest of Humen. Since it opened in August 1994, the trash heap has collected about 4 million tons of garbage, according to local statistics.

"The garbage has been rotting for 15 years and it is difficult to handle," Ren Liping, a female senior engineer at the Utilities Service Center at Humen, told the Global Times.

At the foot of the hill, black sewage drains into farmland. Looking upward, you can see a second mountain of garbage, 30 meters high, growing on the hilltop.

Rags, glass fragments, plastic garbage bags and other solid household garbage can be seen clearly.

The hill peak is about two football fields wide. The trash heap has no cover. When the wind blows, a garbage storm blows smelly trash in people's faces.

"Villagers are afraid of a northwest wind blowing after rainy days," a villager, surnamed Han, who refused to give his full name, told the China Economic Times.

Villagers dare not go outside on windy days, Han said.

Han said about 100 garbage trucks dump refuse on the landfill in a day. The stench is so nauseating that his family can't fall asleep even with the door closed.

"We really cannot bear it."

Villagers must also live with the constant danger of the waste heap catching fire, due to the spontaneous combustion of methane gas as the garbage rots

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