CHINA> Regional
Protest over plant pollution escalates in C China
Updated: 2009-07-30 18:46

LIUYANG, Hunan: Villagers took to the streets in Zhentou Township, central China's Hunan Province, again on Thursday, protesting detentions the previous day during demonstrations against pollution problems caused by a chemical plant.

The protests centered on the local government building and police station, sources said Thursday.

A township government spokesman said villagers on Wednesday staged the protests because they considered they were not being fairly treated for problems caused by the Xianhe Chemical Plant's pollution.

They were asking for free health check-ups, free medical treatment if they were shown to have complaints resulting from the pollution and compensation for despoiled crops and land

In the most recent protest, villagers protested detention of six villagers and demanded a solution to the plant's pollution problems once and for all. One person was injured in the Wednesday protest.

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The township comes under the jurisdiction of Liuyang, a county-level city of Changsha, the provincial capital of Hunan.

A source from the Hunan Provincial Environmental Protection Department said the plant, in Shuangqiao Village of the township, became operational in April 2004.

From the onset, it was riddled by problems including poor environmental management, heaping of solid waste and a lack of rainwater collection devices.

Local villagers' complaints about the plant's effect on the environment flowed in and have soared since 2008. The villagers said the plant was harming the local environment with excessive concentrations of the toxic heavy metals, cadmium and indium, which in turn endangered the safety of drinking water in the vicinity.

The environmental protection department ordered the plant to halt production in March this year.

This year government departments in Changsha and Liuyang cities set up a joint group responsible for carrying out surveys into the chemical plant's negative impact on the environment and people's health.

Villagers whose urinary tests showed excessive cadmium levels have received medical treatment.