Officials in eastern China have stopped the construction at a petrochemical complex after it was met by protests by residents who claimed that it would pollute the region. Municipal officials in Ningbo city said that the planned expansion of the complex would be temporarily placed on hold while a scientific review of its environmental impact was being conducted. The officials didn’t say when the study would be made or when it would be completed.
The petrochemical complex in Ningbo’s coastal Zhenhai district is owned by a subsidiary of Sinopec, which is a major Chinese oil refiner. Thousands of Ningbo residents protested against the project, which led to the action by the local government. Demonstrators said that riot police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds. Authorities on the other hand said that protestors assaulted officers. There were conflicting reports with regards to the encounter between the protestors and the police authorities.
Ningbo’s mayor and the city’s Communist Party chief met with residents Saturday night to hear their complaints about the expansion inside the petrochemical complex. It was still unclear whether the municipal government will scrap the project or revive it in the future once public pressure dispels.
The protestors said that hundreds of residents have gathered outside a Zhenhai government building Sunday and marched through the nearby streets in order to keep the pressure on the officials. They said that the police allowed the march to proceed.
China’s Communist leaders have been working on keeping the country stable just before the once-in-a-decade leadership transition that would happen next month. The country faced several environmental protests this year as residents vent their anger with regards to the health risks of industrial projects approved by local government officials. Earlier this month, residents protested against the construction of a coal fired power plant on the southern island of Hainan.