The “world’s largest” waste incinerator will be up-and-running at full speed in a Beijing western suburb next month, China Daily has gleefully reported. The incinerator will be able to process 3,000 tons of household garbage per day, which equals around one-sixth of the daily domestic waste generated in China’s capital. Based on previous reactions to such projects that’ve gone up in China, we’re assuming the waste plant will only be received with enthusiasm by its neighbors.
The Lujiashan incinerator, completed in 2012 at a cost of 2.1 billion yuan, just finished its year-long trial run and is ready to go into full operation. Before its construction, 80 percent of Beijing’s garbage was just poured into various landfills scattered across the city.
Now, household trash from Beijing’s Dongcheng, Xicheng, Fengtai, Shijingshan and Mentougou districts will be dumped into a 30-meter-deep treatment “pond” capable of handling up to 40,000 tons of waste at a time. There, the garbage will ferment for a week and somehow not reek to high hell, China Daily explains.
The custom-built air-blast system will keep the atmospheric pressure in the pond lower than that outside and thus keep the smell of rotting garbage locked within the pond and spare the neighborhood of the stink. Also, the “fermentation” will increase the waste’s heat generation capacity by a large margin.
After the garbage “ferments”, mechanized buckets will dump it into four incinerators, which are actually waste heat boilers. The incineration will reduce the volume of the garbage by about 90 percent within a short time and the heat generated by the incineration can be transformed into electricity through two 30-megawatt air-cooling turbo-powered generators.
The local government had previously planned on building nine waste incinerators near Beijing by 2015, but local residents lobbied against it for fear of pollution. Before this one, only one small incinerator existed near the city.
To combat its mounting garbage problem, the Chinese government has been pushing out several waste-to-energy projects, many of which have been met with protest from the public.
In September, thousands of residents swarmed the streets in Boluo County, Guangdong to rally against a proposed garbage incinerator in the area. Earlier this year in Hangzhou, protests against the city’s plan to build a giant waste incinerator turned violent as demonstrators clashed with police forces.
In August, 396 villagers from Minhou, Fujian actually won a lawsuit against a waste management firm after the court confirmed that its incinerators were releasing harmful dioxin gas into the air.
The Beijing government, however, is claiming that its latest incinerator will be “eco-friendly”. And then some.
Lujiashan can generate 420 million kilowatt hour of power in a year, which is equal to that generated by 140,000 tons of standard coal. Moreover, the more than 800 C temperature can eliminate dioxin, a carcinogenic pollutant and a byproduct of outmoded waste incineration technology, from the emissions.
Advanced environmental facilities “cleanse” the emissions from the incinerator in the high-voltage chimney which collects dust and pollutants, and ensures that the emitted fly ash meets national standards. Plus, the solid residue can be used as raw material in the cement industry.
It appears, however, that the public has heard that ol’ song before.
“Of course, the government would say it’s safe,” a protestor in Boluo county told the New York Times in August. “But if the river here is polluted, then we’ll all be harmed, and there’s also the problem of air pollution from the dioxins.”