08/28/2013, 00.00
CHINA
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Guangdong's new coal plants "will kill 16 thousand people"

The Government of the rich southern province plans to build 22 new power plants, but experts and environmental activists warn: "they will provoke a massacre in the coming years." And the delta of the Pearl River turns black.

Guangzhou (AsiaNews) - 22 new coal fired power plants are being planned by the government of Guangdong and will result in approximately 16 thousand deaths in the next 40 years, which must be added to the 3,600 victims of air pollution already in the rich southern province. This is the warning given by experts and environmental activists, who are asking the provincial government to return to a "no-coal" policy first launched in 2009 in the delta of the Pearl River, which has become black (see picture) for excessive pollution.

The estimates were presented by Andrew Gray, an air quality consultant hired by Greenpeace to study the impact on the health of SMEs, particulate emissions from the combustion of coal in the air. This particle is well known in national and international news, since at times of maximum industrial production darkens the skies of Beijing, Shanghai and other megacities national forcing the population to live within homes and offices.

At the moment, 96 coal-fired plants already operate in the territory each year causing an estimated 3,600 deaths and about 4 thousand cases of childhood asthma in the province and Hong Kong. With the activation of new power plants, cases of asthma would reach 15 thousand while those of chronic bronchitis would be at least 19 thousand. Environmental activist, Zhou Rong, says: "The cumulative impact of these new plants on human health is simply shocking.The Pearl River Delta [PRD] region should strictly enforce the policy of no more new coal-fired power plants in the PRD published in 2009. Guangdong has ignored its earlier pledge to ban new coal-fired power plants in order to feed its hunger for energy. "

This alarm is further supported by the images of the river at Maozhou, the largest of the southern cities of Shenzhen and the heart of the delta, which these days has become black because of pollution from the industrial and private sectors. The government has allocated about 100 million euro to clean up the basin by 2015, but at this pace it seems impossible to achieve the goal without new pollution dragging the situation back to the starting point.

The industrial overproduction is a double edged sword for the Chinese government. On the one hand it ensures sustained growth of the gross domestic product, which is necessary to maintain social stability and to affirm the new starring role for China on the world stage.  On the other hand it is leading to more massive popular demonstrations against pollution, forced land expropriations and corruption of Party officials and industrialists.

 

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