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Public opinion decisive in Kunming's PX project

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-05-10 19:21

KUNMING - A senior government official and corporate executives in Southwest China's Yunnan province said Friday that the decision to allow a new chemical plant to begin production will be made by the public in response to protests staged last weekend.

"The government will call off the project if most of our citizens say no to it," said Li Wenrong, mayor of the provincial capital of Kunming.

Li made the remarks at a joint news conference held by the Kunming municipal government, China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) and Yuntianhua Group.

CNPC, China's largest oil and gas producer, is planning to build an oil refinery in Anning, a county-level city administered by Kunming.

One of the refinery's byproduct projects would produce 500,000 tons of paraxylene (PX) annually, according to media reports.

PX is a carcinogenic petrochemical used to create raw materials for the production of polyester film and fabrics.

Hundreds of people took to the streets in Kunming on Saturday to protest the project, insisting that the production of PX will damage the environment.

Hu Jingke, general manager of CNPC's Yunnan subsidiary, said a feasibility study for the refinery was approved by the country's top economic planner in January.

Hu denied that PX production was included in the project.

"The project has no PX facilities, nor will it produce PX products," he said at the press conference.

Hu Jun, general manager of the Yuntianhua Group, which is responsible for the byproduct project, said a feasibility study and environmental impact assessment for the project have yet to be finished.

He said the company will give full consideration to public suggestions regarding which products should be produced.

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