The developer of a planned chemical plant in Maoming, Guangdong province, has received strong protests from nearby residents who say the plant will cause pollution and health problems in their neighborhoods.
The feedback came after the company publicized a notice on June 4 to seek public opinions to be included in an environmental impact assessment.
Plans call for the Maoming paraxylene (PX) project to be built within the Maoming Oil Refinery Plant.
"The site of the PX project is too close to residential areas. It will be very harmful to the environment and public health," Zhang Youxiang, a citizen of Maoming, said yesterday.
Zhang's apartment, in the heart of the Maoming urban area, is just five kilometers from the construction site, he said.
The plant is a 2.2 billion-yuan ($322 million) investment and has been designed for an annual production capacity of 600,000 tons of PX, a compound used in polyester and fabrics.
Nearby residents have posted multiple protests on major online forums since June.
"We should learn from citizens in Xiamen to join hands to oppose such a chemical project that has a high potential of pollution," Zhang said.
In 2007, authorities in Xiamen in Fujian province had to call off a PX project after protests from nearby residents over potential pollution and health problems.
In May, the Fujian provincial authority started construction of the project in Zhangzhou, nearly 100 km away from Xiamen, two years after preparation work.
Officials from the company that will build the Maoming plant, the Maoming branch of China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation, said public opinion would be a key factor in the decision-making process.
"We will attach great importance to public concerns and promise an effective control on the gas, water and solid waste," said Ruan Xiaowen, one of the staff workers responsible for the project's environmental impact assessment.
The project was planned in 2005 and listed by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) as one of the key national PX projects during the 11th Five Year Plan period (2007-12), Ruan said.
The plan calls for securing economic growth and economic structure, urbanizing the population, conserving energy and national resources, encouraging sound environmental practices, and improving education.
Under the NDRC plan, China will construct six new PX plants in provinces of Jiangsu, Guangdong, Fujian, Hainan and Liaoning during the period, building the country's PX production capacity to more than 10 million tons annually.