Rotting rubbish has been piling up on the streets of Jiaxing City for four days after residents blocked garbage trucks at a waste disposal plant in a protest against pollution.
Villagers living near Jiaxing's Buyun Garbage Incineration Power Plant gathered at its gate on Saturday and lay down in the road, stopping rubbish trucks from entering. They claimed the smell and dust the plant produced had affected their health and the harvest.
A spokesman for the local government said it had persuaded the villagers to leave, with promises to replace the plant's old furnaces with new ones that meet environmental standards.
The replacement will only be carried out after approximately 400 tons of rubbish, which has piled up in the city over the past four days, was disposed of, said the spokesman on condition of anonymity.
The plant was forced to stop operation between Saturday and Tuesday when angry villagers took turns to block the main entrance to the privately owned plant.
On Tuesday, around 30 villagers deflated the tires of seven rubbish trucks and blocked the plant's lorries from leaving.
The plant, near Jiaoshanmen Village, Daqiao town, about 10 kilometers from Jiaxing's city center, opened in 2003.
Village official Chen Jianfeng said residents had been worrying about pollution for the past five years. "But this time, their grievances reached a climax because of apparent losses in the fields and suspected health problems."
Farmers complained their fruits and vegetables hardly sell on the market, as dust from the incineration plant falls on crops and is difficult to remove, said Chen.
Many villagers suspected that pollution from the plant had affected their health. Though no official figure is available, one of the villagers said 16 people in the village had died of cancer in the past five years.
"We didn't used to have so many lung and liver cancer cases in the past," said Xie Linyou, 61. Xie was diagnosed with liver cancer last month.
Village head Chen Jianfeng said the local government had sent an investigation team to visit every household to hear the villagers' complaints
By Tuesday night, the incident had paralyzed more than 20 trash collection centers in Jiaxing. Workers wearing face masks had to pile up the rubbish - in bags or loose - along the streets.
(Xinhua News Agency November 13, 2008)