Plant stays open as riot police deployed

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 August, 2011, 12:00am


Riot police and paramilitary squads were out in force in Dalian yesterday after more than 10,000 residents took to the streets on Sunday to protest against a chemical plant.

Images circulated on the internet of a large number of paramilitary police from elsewhere in Liaoning province entering the city in the morning and many awaiting orders at high school sports grounds.

The authorities, fearing riots, ordered the immediate deletion of any posts related to Sunday's rally in chat rooms or on microblogs.

A Dalian government spokesman said calm had returned to the city after the authorities ordered the immediate shutdown and swift relocation of the Fujia Petrochemical plant in response to protesters' demands after a toxic-spill scare.

However, Reuters, citing industry sources, reported that the plant, which produces 700,000 tonnes of paraxylene a year, was still operating as usual despite the order.

'The plant is running normally ... there is no notice for operation changes,' it quoted a person with knowledge of the plant's operations as saying. It said the plant, one of the country's leading importers of naphtha, was receiving normal shipments. It uses Naphtha as a feedstock for producing paraxylene, a toxic petrochemical used in paints and plastics.

A Beijing-based oil trader told Reuters a complete shutdown of the plant, which is one of China's largest paraxylene producers and contributes two billion yuan (HK$2.44 billion) in tax revenue to the Dalian government every year, could have a major impact on the naphtha and petrochemicals markets.

The plant, 20km from the city centre, triggered a toxic-spill scare last week after Typhoon Muifa broke the dyke guarding the plant.

Protesters said on Sunday police had taken some of them away.