Garbage disposal facilities in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province, will be given a thorough overhaul in response to complaints from the public, local authorities said on Wednesday.
Since Sunday, dozens of residents have blocked the gates to the Buyun incineration and power plant to prevent garbage trucks from entering.
They have made repeated complaints of black smoke and bad smells emanating from the plant.
Sunday's protest led to tons of garbage being left at 20 collection centers across Jiaxing, and stretching for 1 km on a road leading to the plant.
On Tuesday, about 30 people surrounded the plant and flattened the tires of garbage trucks. They dispersed only at night, local newspaper Today Morning Express said.
The government has set up a team to investigate the incident and talks are scheduled for next Wednesday between government officials, business leaders and residents, it said.
One of the four furnaces at the plant restarted operations on Wednesday, and most of the piled up garbage had been cleared, the government said.
"The government understands the people's call," an official surnamed Zhang at general office of the Jiaxing government said on Wednesday.
The government has been working on a solution to the problem and a draft plan will be announced soon, he said.
The plant, built in June 2003, is the only garbage treatment facility in Jiaxing. It handles about 700 tons of household garbage daily from Jiaxing and Pinghu.
Village official Chen Jianfeng said residents had been complaining about the pollution for the past five years.
"But this time, their grievances reached a peak because of losses in the fields and health problems," Chen said.
Farmers have complained about being unable to sell their fruit and vegetables because they are covered in dust from the plant, he said.
Yu Yuezhong, who grows grapes, said this year they were extremely small because dust keeps accumulating on the roof of his greenhouse, blocking the sunshine.
Many villagers suspect the pollution has affected their health. One of the villagers said 16 people had died of cancer in the past five years.
"We did not have so many lung and liver cancer cases in the past," Xie Linyou, who was diagnosed with liver cancer last month.
(China Daily November 13, 2008)