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Chemical plant expansion in China shelved following protests


This photo taken on May 10, 2011 shows a worker riding bicycle at an oil refinery of China's Sinopec, in Wuhan, central China's Hubei province.



Protests in China have caused the Ningbo city government to shelve plans for a proposed petrochemical plant construction by Sinopec, the country's largest oil refiner.

Thousands of locals in the eastern Chinese city demonstrated for six days to prevent the $8.9 billion facility expansion. The unrest began on Monday with about 200 demonstrators, and quickly grew, at times turning violent as protesters allegedly overturned cars and attacked police, Reuters reported

They argued that paraxylene, the chemical to be produced at the plant and used in the manufacture of polyester, is a carcinogen that could cause serious harm to residents' heath and the environment, the Wall Street Journal reported

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"Following research with investors, Ningbo city has decided: (1) not to go ahead with the PX (chemical factory) project and (2) to halt advance work on the chemical refining project," the government of Ningbo's Zhenhai said on its website, according to Agence France Presse

The protests are the latest marker of growing public concern for environmental standards in China. In July, protesters in Shifang demonstrated about plans for a molybdenum copper plant, and last August in Dalian, protesters managed to get a chemical factory shuttered over environmental abuses, Bloomberg Businessweek reported

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