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Beijing waste-burning power plants to be called off
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China's environment watchdog has called off a controversial waste-fueled power plant in Beijing until further environment impact study is done and subject to public scrutiny.

The Liulitun project in the northwest of the Chinese capital must go through further feasibility study by experts and public scrutiny on a larger scale, said Zhu Xingxiang, head of the pollution prevention division under the Ministry of Environmental Protection said on the sidelines of the parliament's annual full session.

The process of expert assessment and results of the public examination must be submitted to the Beijing municipal bureau of environmental protection for approval, he said.

The bureau then must inform the public if it choose to approve the project, said Zhu at a press conference.

"The project must not start without informing the public first," he said.

The proposal of building a waste-fueled power plant unveiled in March 2007 aroused wrath and frustration of residents living nearby.

As one of the four scheduled plants of its kind in Beijing, the project with an investment of eight million yuan (US$1.17 million) is expected to burn 1,200 tonnes of waste every day.

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

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

Yet, suspension of such projects had left the local government unsolved with growing pressure of waste disposal problem when dumps are getting filled up in the city.

This is a growing dilemma faced by Beijing and other Chinese cities alike.

Vice Minister Wu Xiaoqing said Wednesday at the same joint media interview that technologies of waste-fueled power plants and waste incineration have been used in other countries for 30 to 40 years, and such technologies could be employed in waste disposal in China.

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

However, he stressed that environmental interests of the public should be firmly safeguarded in these endeavors.

(Xinhua News Agency March 11, 2009)

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