BEIJING (AP) — Authorities in eastern China have halted plans to build a trash incinerator after rowdy street protests by residents and the arrests of four people.
The Haiyan county government in Zhejiang province said in a statement Friday that hundreds of residents began to gather illegally Wednesday and blocked roads. The demonstration escalated on Thursday evening when the mob attacked a local government building, smashing objects and causing injuries to police and bystanders, it said.
A 19-year-old woman was detained on charges of spreading unverified gory pictures and videos on the Internet showing protesters beaten by police, which were viewed more than 5,000 times. Another person was also detained for spreading rumors and two others were detained for disrupting public orders, including a woman charged with spreading insults against local officials, the government said.
The images were possibly taken at one of many protests that occur each year.
The government statement said the 19-year-old, identified only by her surname, Yu, told police she hadn’t been present at the protests but had seen the images online and decided to circulate them out of anger.
It said Yu had failed to verify the origin of the pictures and related text, implying they may have been related to a completely different incident.
The two charged with spreading rumors face criminal charges.
The Haiyan government first revealed plans for the incinerator project on April 12, saying it was needed to help dispose of the 450 tons of solid waste that residents are generating every day.
No reason was given for the cancellation.
Recent years have seen a growing number of protests against incinerators, chemical plants and other projects believed to threaten the environment and living conditions.
Those have generally been permitted despite the ruling Communist Party’s pervasive crackdown on independent organizers and political critics, although arrests often follow once demonstrations die down.
Environmental safety concerns have been further fueled by a string of serious accidents involving deadly chemicals in China.
In August, 173 people, many of them firefighters, were killed in a chemical explosion in the port of Tianjin involving 700 tons of highly toxic sodium cyanide. Investigators said the warehouses storing the chemicals had been built too close to residential units and numerous people were arrested for violating regulations on safe distances.