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September 27, 2011

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Residents link car stains to refinery fire

HOUSEHOLDERS in the city's Baoshan District woke up at the weekend to find their cars spattered with a mysterious greasy substance.

Many suspect the dirt is from a fire in an oil refinery last Friday across the Huangpu River in the Pudong New Area.

Now more than 100 drivers face bills of up to 1,000 yuan (US$156) to have their vehicles cleaned.

Local environmental authorities and oil company staff are investigating.

"At first, I just thought it was ordinary grime," said car owner Liang Chen. "But it's hard to remove."

Other drivers in the same community reported that their cars were also affected and stains were found on apartment balconies, said Liang.

Residents have linked this to a three-hour fire in Pudong's Gaoqiao chemical industrial zone, claiming the wind carried polluted smoke across the river.

"We also want to know if there's any health risk," said Liang.

Staff from the oil company, SINOPEC Shanghai Gaoqiao Petrochemical Corp, came to Liang's community yesterday to conduct checks but no date for a meeting has been set.

Liang said he was told by the community property management that the oil company would contribute to clean-up costs and "intended to keep the incident low-profile."

Environmental officials said earlier no obvious pollution was detected after the fire.

SINOPEC said the fire broke out at a coking unit. All production has been suspended at coking units due to safety concerns, causing losses estimated at 300 million yuan.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated, said officials.


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