Some 10,000 residents of the city of Qidong, Jiangsu Province are expected to hit the streets in protest Saturday hoping to stop a Japanese paper factory, which locals say will discharge 150,000 tons of dirty water every day, from going into full operation.
The protest is expected to go ahead even though the city government announced on television Thursday that the plant will be suspended.
The Japan-based Oji Paper Group uses a 100-kilometer-long pipeline to dump tens of thousands of tons of water into the sea every day, said Gu Bin, a local resident who has researched and protested against the project since 2009, told the Global Times on Thursday.
"We have applied for a protest permit but the local government has refused to approve it. We will still walk the streets to express our opinion," Gu said, adding that the government has also refused repeated request to make public the environmental assessment report.
An office worker surnamed Huang at the company's Nantong factory told the Global Times that the company is aware of the pending protest. He also defended the company's use of the pipeline saying the local government built it and is responsible for handling it.
Qidong is a coastal city that has attracted a lot of industries that share the pipeline which discharges waste into the sea 100 kilometers away. The government could not be reached for comment.
Zhang Jianxin, the vice mayor of Qidong, said on local television that the water emitted from the pipeline meets national standards. Zhang also said the city is considering closing the plant.
The comments from government officials have not eased the public's worries and some believe it's only an attempt to delay their protest.
Some citizens also told the Global Times that they have been warned not to take to streets.
"We have been demanding an answer for three years but every effort ended in vain. We won't believe the government until they make clear what measures they will take to stop pollution from harming our health," Gu said in an interview on Thursday.
Oji started to build the factory drawing $2 billion investment in Jiangsu in 2007 and the factory went into trial operation in 2010, according to the company's official website.
The company, which has other projects in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Qingdao in Shandong Province and Shanghai, said it uses green technologies in its processing.