121 waste incinerators refuse to disclose data on fly ash

A non-governmental organization (NGO) report has revealed that 121 waste incineration plants in China have refused to disclose data on their pollution emissions, especially the whereabouts of fly ash, according to caixin.com on Wednesday.

The report suggests that fly ash, which originates from the burning of household rubbish, is not fully understood and could be more damaging than was previously thought.

In addition, pollution such as dioxin levels has been under-publicized, and the burning of household rubbish is also causing severe air pollution in China.

The report was coordinated by the Wuhu Ecology Center and Friends of Nature, both NGOs concerned with the protection of the environment.

In 2014, the two NGOs asked 103 environment bureaus to press 160 waste incineration plants to disclose pollution information.

Little dioxin or fly ash information was provided. Plants from major cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou failed to return adequate reports. They also refused to disclose any dioxin information.

Fly ash has been severely mishandled in China, and has even been used as a construction material, or put in “temporary storage” for years.

Nearly a quarter (39 out of 160 plants) provided fly ash information. Of these, 26 dumped fly ash into landfills and five used it directly as a construction material, though both contravene environmental policies. Only eight plants followed guidelines and sent fly ash to qualified waste management companies.

Functioning waste incineration plants have been breaking rules by over-releasing pollutants into the air, including smoke (30.8 per cent above legal limits), sulfur dioxide (25.94 percent), oxynitride (21.53 percent) and carbon monoxide (11.28 per cent).

The largest Chinese cities are facing pressing problems of “waste besiegement,” according to a report conducted by Renmin University of China. Local governments prefer to burn rubbish because of its effectiveness in reducing waste volumes. A large number of waste incineration plants are under construction, with the total number potentially exceeding 300 by the end of 2015.

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