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September 3, 2009

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Water plant under fire over pollution

POLLUTION had triggered conflicts between residents and a water-processing factory in east China's coastal city of Quanzhou, a government source said yesterday.
The incident took place in Fengwei Town of Quangang District in Quanzhou, Fujian Province, a local government official said.
More than 600 residents gathered around Quangang Urban Wastewater Treatment Plant to stop facilities being repaired on Monday, the official said, and two officials from the town government were injured and "detained" by the villagers.
The officials were freed at 4am on Tuesday.
The doors of the plant were still closed yesterday. Many facilities and windows were damaged and a car in front of the plant was destroyed.
The conflict can be traced back to August 18 when the factory began trial operations. Since then, residents started to gather around the factory, the official said.
The residents said their lives had been seriously affected since the factory was established, as the wastewater was smelly and fishing areas had been polluted.
"I feel dazed and want to vomit when I smell that water. Sometimes I just cannot eat anything," said a villager surnamed Liu.
Many had fallen ill after the factory opened, Liu said.
The villagers said they relied on sea fishing for their livelihoods and their fish and shrimps could not be sold.
"I grow two mu (about 0.13 hectare) of oysters, which could bring in 40,000 yuan (US$5,855) to 50,000 yuan a year. This year, I can only earn less than 10,000 yuan," said a villager surnamed Zheng.
The Quangang District government has announced it would reinforce monitoring of the plant and would provide free medicine to villagers affected by the wastewater.
The government said it would invite an environmental assessment organization to examine the sea water for the fishing industry, and if the water had been polluted the villagers would be compensated by the factory.
The factory was planned by the Fujian provincial government as a part of infrastructure construction in 1997. Experts had made an environmental assessment and the plan was approved by the provincial environmental protection bureau, the official said.


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