In 2011, when plans were announced to expand the coal-fired Huaneng Haimen power station situated in Haimen, residents and other citizens opposing the expansion took their anger to the streets. The residents argued that existing coal-fired power plants had already caused environmental and health-related damage to the local population, citing that they had caused a rise in cases of cancer and damage to the local fishing industry.
The demonstrations began on 20 December 2011, when thousands of protesters blocked a freeway and tried to occupy government offices and block an expressway in an attempt to block the project and halt the expansion.
In an effort to deter protesters and halt the demonstrations, police officers fired tear gas at the crowd and showcased two handcuffed demonstrators on local television. Clips also showed protesters confronted with possible consequences of joining the demonstration; legal experts warned that they may face up to five years in prison. During the clashes, an unconfirmed number of protesters were also detained by the police. State-run news service Xinhua stated that five people had been detained on vandalism charges.
In a reaction to the uprising, local officials offered the protesters to temporarily suspend the proposed expansion of the Huaneng Haimen power station, but demonstrators continued their efforts to demand that expansion plans should be scrapped altogether. Tensions finally cooled before Christmas 2011, when the plant expansion plans were indeed temporarily suspended by national Party officials and authorities agreed to release protesters detained during the clashes.
Online accounts stating that two people had died during the protest were denied by a Chinese official and could not be confirmed.
In 2014, protests re-emerged and twelve people were arrested for blocking a road leading to the plant for disturbing public order. After expansion plans were temporarily put on hold due to the protests in 2011, two additional coal-fired units were finally completed in 2013, bringing the power station's capacity up to a total of 4,144 MW.