The Observer reports on a post-Olympics protest in Beijing involving middle class home owners and a nearby landfill and waste incineration facility.
Of course anytime you mix residents from apartment complexes bearing faintly ridiculous names like “New Sky Universe” and “Berlin Symphony”, “young urban professionals - designers, internet workers and translators,” and a facility that buries 3,700 tons of household refuse and burns 40 tons of medical waste from hospitals every day, you have a got a recipe for disaster. Beijing apparently is no exception.
People who live in the “affluent Changying district of east Beijing” near the Gaoantun landfill and waste incineration facility have reportedly “petitioned the authorities and filed a lawsuit in the courts,” but “[d]issatisfied with the lack of progress, they are using the internet [this appears to be one of their websites: http://www.wxxt.net/gaoantun/harm.html], text messages and demonstrations to be heard.”
Last Saturday they took to the streets “[w]earing surgical masks and carrying umbrellas [it was raining at the time so these don't appear to have been part of the protest theatrics], . . . and refused to allow rubbish trucks to pass as dozens of police filmed them and appealed for calm.” Check out some pictures at China Digital Times here.
The landfill owners claim they are operating in conformance with the law.
Managers at the site said emissions met environment bureau standards, but officials acknowledged the smell was a problem. ‘We pay a lot of attention to the residents’ concerns,’ said Guo Tuanhui. ‘On hot days, the buried rubbish gives off a bad odour. But we are doing what we can.’
bezdomny ex patria has translated an article about the July start of operations of the waste incinerator here. The landfill appears to have been in operation for a much longer period of time.
My sympathies in these situations are usually with whomever was there first. If you want to keep a proposed landfill out of your nice green backyard, that’s one thing; if it was already in the backyard when you bought the place that’s another.
So, when I hear
‘If I had known, I would never have bought a home here,’ says Helen Liu, a translator who moved into her 500,000 yuan house in April.
I can’t shed any tears for Ms. Liu. Now if the landfill/incinerator is violating the law, that’s another matter, but I don’t have those facts yet. In any event, if Beijing had simply allowed a few of these protests to happen during the Olympics, it could have saved itself a lot of bad PR.