|Nice skull, dudes! (Photo credit: Reuters)|
Municipal authorities in Dalian, a city in northeast China, have ordered the closure of a recently built p-xylene plant after protests by local residents. The protests erupted a few days after waves from a tropical storm nearly swept through the facility, raising fears of an environmental disaster. In an Aug. 17 statement, the municipal government of Dalian said work to permanently close the p-xylene plant has already begun. The statement quotes the city’s mayor as saying that the safety of local citizens is paramount.
The $1.5 billion plant belongs to Dalian-based Fujia Group. The company says the facility can produce up to 700,000 metric tons per year of p-xylene, a key raw material in polyester production. The plant, located about 20 miles from Dalian’s center, started operating in June 2009. Earlier this month, about 1,000 firefighters and Chinese army troops frantically worked to rebuild a dike around the plant after waves from tropical storm Muifa breached the barrier, Chinese state media reported.
This close call with an environmental mishap prompted thousands of Dalian residents to take to the streets and demand the immediate closure of the plant.I find this story somewhat cheering, in the sense that the local governments in China are responding to public pressure, even in a dollars-and-cents issue like the siting of a chemical plant. p-Xylene is probably not all that toxic, but I'm not volunteering to put a plant in my backyard. People want jobs and industry, but they're not interested in the heavily polluted ones.
If they wanted to export all those R&D jobs back to the US, I'd be all for it, but I don't see that one happening. 'Twas ever thus.