Shenzhen landslide sounds alarm on construction waste: The China Daily

Rescue workers work around a damaged building in the industrial park hit by a landslide in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, Dec 22, 2015.
Rescue workers work around a damaged building in the industrial park hit by a landslide in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, Dec 22, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

In its editorial on Dec 22, 2015, The China Daily says investigation on the landslide must look into management of construction waste, given that China produced an estimated 1.5 billion tons of such waste in 2014.

A landslide destroyed or damaged 33 buildings in Shenzhen, South China, on Sunday (Dec 20), leaving 91 people missing at the time of writing.

A search is still underway for the missing, and we hope that they will be rescued. Our thoughts are with the loved ones of those whose whereabouts are still not yet known.

President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have already urged that rescue work be carried out in an urgent and orderly manner to reduce the number of casualties and said the cause of the accident be determined as soon as possible.

Given that 33 buildings including 14 factory buildings, two office buildings, three residential ones and some other bungalows have been completely submerged or partially destroyed, it is not hard to imagine how much construction cut was involved.

But while it sounds like a natural disaster, it was not exactly. It was a huge artificial mountain formed from the excavated earth and other kinds of residue from urban construction and renovation work that had long been dumped there.

There should be strict rules for the management of such sites, which should specify how high the residue can be piled up and the distance from such a site to factories or other types of buildings.

Even if there are no such specific rules, it should be common sense for planners to imagine that the buildings in the vicinity of such artificial mountains might be at risk if a landslide occurred.

And such a fatal accident, which could have been avoided had the site been kept at a safe distance from other buildings or safeguarded with enough measures, warrants serious consideration about the management of urban construction waste.

China produced an estimated 1.5 billion tons of construction waste in 2014. If the majority of such waste cannot be sustainably used for other purposes, it should at least be well managed to ensure it does not become hazardous. In addition, enough attention needs to be paid to the pollution it may cause to the environment.

Moreover, the investigation needs to find out whether enough attention has been paid to the management of construction waste nationwide. Lack of attention to this matter may be common, with the attendant risks of similar incidents occurring.

This accident should be a wake-up call for all local authorities.