Issue Date: July 6, 2015
More p-Xylene Protests Erupt In China
Thousands of Shanghai residents took to the streets in late June convinced that a p-xylene plant would be built in the Chinese city’s Jinshan district. Chinese citizens have been especially wary of these chemical plants since April when a new p-xylene plant exploded in Fujian province.
Government authorities in Shanghai insist that no plans for a new p-xylene facility there exist.
The protests in Shanghai started after the government of Jinshan initiated a public consultation process as part of an environmental impact assessment (EIA) of an existing chemical industry park. In a statement, officials point out that the chemical industry zone has not undergone an EIA for five years and that it is time for one to be performed.
However, plans for the assessment and a separate site integration project have apparently led Shanghai residents to conclude that a p-xylene plant will be built. Still, government officials say, “The EIA for the development plan of the chemical industry zone does not involve a p-xylene project, and it’s not possible that it would have a p-xylene project in the future, either.”
Elsewhere in the world, the production of p-xylene, an intermediate used to make polyester fiber and plastic bottle resin, generates little controversy. China itself is a major producer—including in Shanghai’s Jinshan district, where Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical has operated a p-xylene plant since 1984.
But in China, p-xylene has come to represent the public’s distrust of both the chemical industry and the government. Starting in Xiamen in 2007, demonstrations have erupted in numerous Chinese cities where p-xylene plants are operating or under consideration.
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