Protests against the construction of a new PX plant in Shanghai have taken place throughout the week as frustration builds over plans to relocate chemical plants to the city’s southern most district.
According to Radio Free Asia, despite local authorities denying that plans for a plant existed, thousands turned out from townships across Shanghai to protest.
In a statement issued on Weibo, the district government said “there is no provision for a PX plant in the environmental assessment for the [Jinshan] chemical industrial park. Neither will there be a PX project in the future.”
However, shortly after the statement was released, a Jinshan government official made contradictory comments to a journalist from RFA. “This project is only at the planning stages. It hasn’t been implemented,” he said.
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“This Gaoqiao chemical factory is currently located in the Pudong development zone, and they want to move it across to Jinshan, which is a chemical industrial zone,” said Jinshan resident Wang Zaiming.
“All of the chemical plants in Shanghai are being relocated over here,” he said. “People didn’t realize this before, but now they do, and that’s why they’ve come out in protest.”
Paraxylene, commonly referred to as PX, a flammable chemical used in polyester and plastics manufacturing. The substance itself is toxic to humans, causing headaches, fatigue, dizziness, confusion, irritability, nausea and loss of appetite. Its manufacture also contributes to PM 2.5 pollution.
Wu Lihong, an environmental campaigner based in Jiangsu, said PX plants are a highly sensitive topic with the general public. “There is nowhere in China where PX plants are welcome,” Wu said. In recent years, several protests against the building of PX plants have taken place in China, notably in Dalian and Kunming.
Jinshan district is located in the south of Shanghai Municipality
In April, 14 people were injured in after an explosion ripped through a PX plant in Fujian province, sparking a major fire. Hundreds of firefighters and 78 fire engines were required to extinguish the blaze.
Watch footage from the protests here:
By Dominic Jackson
[Image via Wikimedia Commons]