Construction halted in Shifang over health concerns Published: 2012-7-3 17:39:00

                Latest  News


Officials promised shutdown of controversial plant amid ongoing protests


Local officials in Shifang, Sichuan Province, promised Tuesday that a heavy metal refinery project which has stirred mass protests would never be started while urging residents not to believe or spread related rumors.

Li Jincheng, Secretary of the Shifang City Committee of the Communist Party of China, told reporters that the project was halted in response to public concern over environmental and health issues, asking the residents to remain rational and "have faith in the Party committee and government to properly address the matter."

The controversial plant has been a key project aimed at boosting employment and improving people’s livelihoods following the deadly earthquake in 2008, explained Li, admitting that lack of proper publicity has resulted in public distrust and misunderstandings, according to the official Sina Weibo account of the Shifang government.

An official surnamed Guo with local environmental protection bureau told the Global Times that the project was approved by the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MOEP) and the proper procedures were followed and environmental assessments were approved.

The refinery project, with a total investment of 6.7 billion yuan ($1 billion) was expected to refine 40,000 tons of molybdenum and 400,000 tons of copper each year, according to the ministry’s website.

Project halted after protest

Thousands of people have taken to the streets to protest over the construction of a heavy metal refinery in Shifang, Sichuan Province for environmental and health concerns, prompting authorities to halt the project and solicit public opinions, officials told the Global Times.



                  Incident  Details

About the project:
A molybdenum and copper refinery in Shifang, Sichuan Province with about 10 billion yuan's investment

About the incident:

●The construction started on June 29.

●Since the evening of July 1, some local high school students and citizens began to gather outside the local government building to protest the construction of the molybdenum and copper refinery.

●The government announced to stop the construction on its official Weibo account on July 2.

Government statement:

●The construction was stopped on July 2.

●No one dies in the incident.

●The government will collect the public opinion and then discuss about project again.

●The government official Weibo account has released 13 messages since the incident happened.

●"The local government will definitely carry out supervision during the entire process of constructing the project. If the company fails in the environmental protection assessment, the local government would not allow it to go into production" - Xu Guangyong, mayor of Shifang

Residents oponions:

●Locals are strongly against the project, believing that it would not bring economic development, but would harm people's well-being.

●Some residents filed complaints with the local government demanding the project be scrapped. But officials did not resolve the issue properly in the past.

                 View  Points


What should we learn in Shifang incident?

The big projects concerning to pollutions are always sensitive topics in people’s eyes around the world. Communication is essential in such incidents. However, Shifang government lacked effective communication with local residents.


@Hu Xijin: The government has stopped the construction of the molybdenum and copper refinery, which means the incident has finally returned to its beginning. The leaders within the Shifang government may feel wronged in that their original intention was to develop the economy. However, they should place deeper introspection into the reasons behind this incident. It has harmed the prestige of the government once again.

@Devin: I want to know whether the government has only planned to temporarily stop the construction? The government should publish the environmental protection report, so the residents will know about the details of the project.

@Xiaoxiaokui: The pollution concerns the health of the local residents, which should be the most important task for the government. I am glad to see that construction was stopped. The government should also conduct a follow-up investigation and release the results as soon as possible.

@Junweifeng: The government lacked communication with the common citizens before the construction started. The government thinks the project will bring local people more benefits. However, the residents don’t think so.

               Similar  Incident

Project: PX project, a controversial chemical plant

Xiamen, East China's Fujian Province

June to December, 2007

The Xiamen authorities put a paraxylene (PX) plant project, earmarked for Haicang District 16 kilometers from the city center, on hold on May 30, 2007. The decision came after huge pressure from citizens opposed to the project who said it was polluting and potentially dangerous.

After collecting public opinions and hold two hearings, the government finally decided to move the plant to a remote place in Zhangzhou, another city in Fujian.
Comments to PX incident:

Common Chinese have more say in policy-making

Making room for public participation

Posted in: Society

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