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One of the largest refineries in China, situated in the port city of Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, is due to undergo a planned expansion, the news of which has caused mass protests.
On Friday, after a week of protests, things turned violent after demonstrators began to attack police cars, and hurl objects that the police officers themselves.
Witnesses claimed that the thousands of protestors were unhappy with the positioning of the petrochemical plant, and want to see its relocation away from the prosperous city. Citing environmental concerns over the production of ethylene and paraxylene; two toxic petrochemical substances used in plastics, paints, and solvents.
The government has been under increasing pressure from the public over growing concerns of industrial pollution, stemming from the fact that economic growth has always been favoured over public concerns about damage to the environment.
Protests have been successful in the recent past, and only time will tell if this one too has served its purpose.
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In August 2011 it was announced that a petrochemical plant in Dalian, northeastern China, would be shut down after 12,000 people protested in the streets.
A month later a solar panel manufacturing company in Jiaxing had to be closed down following protests about its use of noxious chemicals.
And, in July of this year tens of thousands of protestors managed to persuade officials in Shifang, Sichuan Province, to cancel their plans to build a huge copper smelter.
Regarding the refinery in Ningbo, the government of Zhenhai have promised that they will include the public sentiment in their evaluation of the plans, stating that “detailed information will be published when environmental reviews are implemented, and public opinions on the project will be heeded.”
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com