Chengdu people walk to express environmental concerns

By Huang Zhiling (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-05-06 08:08

CHENGDU - About 200 people here in the capital of Sichuan province held a "group walk" on Sunday afternoon to express their concerns over the environmental impact the construction of two plants may have on their city.

The residents took a two-hour leisurely walk from Nine-Hole Bridge to Wangjiang Pavilion in the eastern part of the city. Both are historical landmarks.

Sun Wenhua, a middle-aged driver, told China Daily the walkers did not carry posters, nor did they shout slogans.

They said they were merely expressing concerns over plans to build an 800,000-ton-a-year ethylene plant and an oil refinery with a processing capacity of 10 million tons a year in Pengzhou, a city under the administration of Chengdu, 35 km away.

They feared the plants could seriously pollute Chengdu's air and water quality.

Ethylene is a common industrial chemical that can be fatal in high concentrations.

Before Sunday's march, the walkers had sent e-mails and text messages to other people reminding them of the possible danger of the plants.

Fei Ge, a journalist, and Hu Jian, a public servant, both received text messages last Monday, asking them to join in the peaceful walk. According to the message, no public hearing had been held over the construction of the plants.

The National Development and Reform Commission approved the refinery's construction on April 21.

Officials at the information office of the Chengdu municipal government declined to comment on the walk, and officials at the municipal public security bureau said they had not heard of it.

Increasing public environmental awareness has led many people to express their opinions. Some have received positive responses from government agencies willing to listen and amend their policies.

On Jan 12 in Shanghai, the government announced a revised maglev route connecting the city's Pudong and Hongqiao airports. Residents, worried about its environmental impact, started a "group walk" on the same day. The government has extended the time for public opinion on the matter.

In May last year, Tenglong Aromatic PX (Xiamen) Co Ltd was forced to halt construction of a $1.4 billion facility to produce paraxylene in Xiamen, Fujian province, after residents sent more than 1 million text messages warning of possible pollution problems. The authorities are considering moving the project to a less populated area in a neighboring city.


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