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Jiaozishan landfill site and incineration plant near Doucun Village in Nanjing, Jiangsu, China


In 1992, the Jiaozishan landfill was established at the site which lies 1.5 km to the southwest of Doucun Village. The landfill locates at the hillside of Mount Qinglong, and the Dou village locates at the downhill of it. The emergence of Jiaozishan landfill has changed the environment and posed a threat to the residents. 

As time goes by, the over-dumped landfill site with huge amount of accumulated wastes would result in severe pollution problem and environmental degradation, e.g. the leachate from the domestic waste landfills can pollute the groundwater system dramatically. However, villagers could not foresee these dangers and took no action to hold them back at the beginning. Meanwhile, a daily basis of 2,000 tons of wastes (the designed capacity was 1.500 tons/day) was dumped into the 280,140 m2 landfill site[1], and the capacity of waste disposal for the whole site was 2,500,000 m3. [2]

 In 2004 and 2004, the number of cancer deaths in Doucun Village reached to 35 people, which was the peak annual mortality rate in the past 10 years period since the Jiaozishan landfill site was built.[3] Additionally, cancer mortality showed a younger trend, while the youngest cancer death was only 33 years old. To villagers' common suspicion to explain this phenomenon was contamination of groundwater. Well water was quite important for villagers’ daily use in the past; therefore the quality of groundwater was closely related to their health. In the latest years, villagers found the well water become smelly and skin itched when they were using it. This raised concerns about whether the wells had been polluted by the landfills. However, the suspicions were yet to be confirmed with sufficient scientific evidences.

 Later in the years, the village leaders asked the government departments for help, and required a report of the quality of well-water from Nanjing Environmental Monitoring Center Station, but they were rejected. They also contacted journalists to report these events. At that time, the chief of the village even boldly declared to the media that the proportion of cancer death accounted for 99% of the deaths, and the types of cancer are mostly lung cancer, stomach cancer, and esophageal cancer. The journalists helped the villagers to ask the government departments for the monitoring report about water quality, but they received the rejection again. Nevertheless, the news that the rise of cancer deaths connected with waste pollution had been posted on the Internet.

 The villagers passively suffered the consequences of impacts from the waste dumping into the landfills, waiting for the closure of landfills. Theoretically, the longest service time designed for the landfill site was 10 years, if it serves longer, it means that not only the storage capacity will reach saturation, risks such as landfill collapses, leachate overflow and dam seepage may occur as well. Therefore, landfills need to be closed after a certain service period, and ecological restoration measures need to be implemented. There was originally a huge hollow inside the landfill, which equals to 20 large football fields, and with 50 meters depth.[4] When the landfill had served for 22 years, which was 12 years longer than the theoretical period, the hollow was filled up and the garbage piled up as a 30-meters high mountain. Though Jiaozishan landfill was closed first time in May 2014, some villagers speculated that this was just a temporal halt because of the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games, which were held in summer 2014.

 No surprises, the landfill site, which had been expanded and rebuilt, was reopened in June 2016. Villagers were agitated by the resumption which was started without any prior notification, and more than 200 locals volunteered to organize protests.[5] The crowds walked along the streets, blocked the roads with scooters and tricycles to stop the garbage trucks from entering the landfill to dump the wastes. The elderly took seats and drank tea with each other to participate in a sit-in movement in front of the landfill site gate. Many villagers carried banners and slogans, shouting angrily and protesting in front of the police station of the district. Then almost one thousand police officers were dispatched by the government to crack down on the protesters and ensured that the garbage trucks entered the landfill as usual. In the end, the villagers clashed with the police. At least twenty villagers were arrested by the police and several of them were sent to the hospital due to the injuries caused by the conflict. The protests not only took place in the local place but also through the Internet. Villagers kept publishing the protest slogans and pictures on the media platform such as Weibo (micro-blogging) and WeChat, with an expectation to draw more attention from the general public. The protests lasted for one week, and it had been rolled back in the familiar way that every villager could get 1,000 RMB per year as subsidies from the government in the coming 3 years. In other words, the landfill could still work legally for a period of time.[6]

 The issue of landfills is just one aspect of the environmental problems in Doucun village, there is also an incineration plant operated by a company to burn medical waste and industrial solid waste. In 2002, Nanjing Huifeng Waste Disposal Company was approved to construct incinerators at the site which lies 1 km to the south of Doucun village. There were many storehouses and factories, and a 50-meter high chimney on top of the incineration plant. The incinerators operated 24 hours per day, and the chimney emitted white smoke in the daytime, black smoke in the night time. The air was filled with strange smells, sometimes sour and other times pungent. If southerly wind came, the smelly air would drift towards Doucun village and no one could put up with it. After its establishment, villagers noticed the higher incident of strange and rare cancers in their village, such as leukemia which also known as blood cancer. The people suffering this misfortune intuitively believed that incineration plant was the main cause and it should be blamed. The air pollution has caused several conflicts between villagers and the company since the year of 2002. Villagers broke into the factories, smashed items and asked to meet the manager. However, the chairman of Jiannan community, which had jurisdiction over Dou village, stopped the conflicts and asserted that the incineration meet national environmental standards. As a result, the company agreed to compensate villagers with regular amounts of money per year since the year of 2012. The payments would be transferred to the community first, and then the community sent money to the account of medical insurance of every villager.    

 The slogan used by villagers in the protest to against polluters is this: “refuse to bury, refuse to burn, refuse pollution, leave a blue sky in the Dou village, and benefit future generations”.[7] However, the facts of pollution need scientific proofs, and the villagers can do nothing about it. In his dissertation, Yang Guifang identified the characteristics of groundwater contamination of Jiaozishan landfill site. It was confirmed that the landfill site was the center of the contaminated area, and the groundwater flowing to the Northwest was seriously contaminated. The entire village was in the area of heavy pollution, and the sampling of well water for chemistry testing found that the same pollutants existed in the leachate from the landfill.[8] Although the "precautionary principle" could have been applied, it was felt necessary to find convincing evidence that the pollution resulted from incineration of medical wastes and industrial solid wastes near the village. According to the report prepared by the National Research Council's Committee on Health Effects of Waste Incineration, the exhaust gases from waste incineration facilities may contain many potentially harmful substances, including particulate matter; dioxins and furans; metals, such as lead and mercury; acid gases; and polycyclic aromatic compounds.[9] Persistent pollutants dispersed into the air can be carried through long distances from their emission sources, and entrench into the soil, water, vegetation or food. Therefore, it is widely supposed that pollutants emitted by the landfill and the incinerator appear to have the potential to cause the largest health effects.

 In the past 25 years, residents of Doucun village had been suffering the various negative impact of their changing living environment and the related health problems since they have compromised with the waste-related industries and the government. The interviewed villagers had expressed their considerable skepticism about the government’s promise on environmental protection, though the landfill has stopped dumping household waste and some mountains of waste have been covered by polymer films, loess and vegetation nowadays. Young people who have lost confidence in changing the situation started to move out of the village with their children or the whole family; while most of the seniors are still clinging to their village homes.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Jiaozishan landfill site and incineration plant near Doucun Village in Nanjing, Jiangsu, China
State or province:Jiangsu
Location of conflict:Jiannan community, Dongshan Subdistrict, Jiangning District, Nanjing
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Water treatment and access to sanitation (access to sewage)
Specific commodities:Domestic municipal waste
Medical and construction waste

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The 420 mu landfill buried 2000 tons of wastes on a daily basis.

Project area:28
Level of Investment for the conflictive project2,500,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:2000
Start of the conflict:2003
End of the conflict:2016
Company names or state enterprises:Nanjing Jiaozishan organic waste treatment plant from China
Nanjing Huifeng Waste Disposal Company from China
Relevant government actors:-Jiannan community and upper-level governments
-Nanjing Environmental Monitoring Center Station
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Residents of Doucun village

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Wastepickers, recyclers
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Drink tea in a sit-in in front of the landfill gates


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Deaths, Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts
Potential: Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Other Health impactsAlleged increase of cancer deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place, Displacement
Potential: Violations of human rights, Land dispossession


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Violent targeting of activists
Arrests, wounded protesters
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The landfill site re-opened after its first closure; the incineration plant is still in operation and there is no sign to see an end so far. People are suffering from the environmental and health impacts. There is displacement or expulsion by pollution.

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)


References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[2]南京市环境卫生专业规划(修编)(2011-2020 年)


[9]Executive Summary - Waste Incineration & Public Health - NCBI Bookshelf

[3]网上曝光台:垃圾污染 南京一村庄30多人死于癌症

[4]轿子山垃圾场昨关闭 扩容改造后将重新开放

[5]抗议垃圾填埋场复业 千警镇压200村民

[6]2016.6.11 江苏南京

[7]不满污染严重 南京村民抗议垃圾场重启

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[2016.6.11] 江苏省南京市江宁区东山街道建南社区窦村抗议垃圾焚烧场污染环境遭警察镇压(一)

Villagers shouting the slogans

Meta information

Contributor:Tianhong Xu,Department of Sociology, Hohai University
Last update13/12/2018
Conflict ID:3361



The incineration plant


The full view of Dou village


The landfill and Dou village

Dou village locates at the downhill of the landfill

The public well in Dou village


The protests


The slogans in a banner


The mountain of garbage in landfill

The garbage piled up like a mountain with about 30 meters high