Controversy over planned paraxylene (PX) plant expansion in Ningbo, Zhejiang, China


Description

The demonstrations in Ningbo began on 24 October 2012, when about 200 villagers began petitioning over environmental concerns over a planned chemical plant and blocked traffic in the streets, the local government said [1]. In a statement, the Zhenhai district government condemned those it blamed for organizing sit-ins and blocking roads in Ningbo but insisted that public sentiment would be taken into consideration before the start of construction. “Detailed information will be published when environmental reviews are implemented, and public opinions on the project will be heeded,” the statement said [2].

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Basic Data
NameControversy over planned paraxylene (PX) plant expansion in Ningbo, Zhejiang, China
CountryChina
ProvinceZhejiang
SiteNingbo
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Chemical industries
Specific CommoditiesParaxylene
Chemical products
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe expanded Sinopec plant is designed to produce 15 million tonnes of refined oil and 1.2 million tonnes of ethylene annually [1].
Level of Investment (in USD)8,900,000,000
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population7,605,689 (Ningbo Municipal Statistic Bureau 2010 Census)
Start Date24/10/2012
End Date28/10/2012
Company Names or State EnterprisesChina Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec ) from China - The plant is owned by Sinopec.
Relevant government actorsThe Zhenhai district government; Chen Bingrong, the city’s vice secretary general
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersvillagers, local residents (mainly middle class)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingNeighbours/citizens/communities
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Media based activism/alternative media
Street protest/marches
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Other Health impacts
Other"The main effect of inhaling xylene vapor is depression of the central nervous system, with symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, which can occur with exposure up to air levels of about 100 ppm. [...] Long term exposure can lead to depression, insomnia, agitation, extreme tiredness, tremors, impaired concentration and short-term memory. [...] At very high levels of exposure, xylene can injure the liver and kidneys, with the damage being irreversible. [...] Xylene inhaled by a woman can reach a developing fetus and can contaminate her breast milk" (Kandyala et al. 2010).
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Violations of human rights
Outcome
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseProject temporarily suspended
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The project merely appears to be temporarily halted. Furthermore, since 12 December 2013, "expanding plants making the dangerous chemical paraxylene (PX)...no longer need ministerial approval", requiring only approval from local EPBs "to simplify procedures and improve efficiency, according to a statement on its website" [5].
Sources and Materials
Links

1. Chinese City Says It Opposes Chemical Project After Protests
[click to view]

2. Protests Against Expansion of China Chemical Plant Turn Violent
[click to view]

3. Protests Over Chemical Plant Force Chinese Officials to Back Down
[click to view]

4. Protests in China Get a Boost From Social Media
[click to view]

Fears over expanded paraxylene projects as Beijing decentralises approval process
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorEJOLT team at School of Geography and China Centre, University of Oxford
Last update10/02/2015
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