Residents assess effect on the environment Xiamen residents were yesterday eagerly studying a long-awaited, government-commissioned report on the environmental impact of a controversial chemical plant, which sparked major demonstrations in June. Many commentators said that, despite failing to address several key areas, the report gave a relatively negative assessment of the plans to build an 11 billion yuan factory to produce the chemical p-Xylene - dubbed PX by residents - in the suburb of Haicang. The report, whose abridged version can be downloaded from the city government's website, asked city planners to choose between developing the Haicang area into 'a chemical industrial zone' or 'a sub-centre of the city'. 'The report points out that the area's two development targets are incompatible. The next thing is to see what decision the Xiamen government will make,' said Xiamen-based blogger Lian Yue, who has written extensively about the plant. One of the PX plant's investors, the Xianglu Petrochemical Company, also came in for criticism in the report. It said a Xianglu plant started manufacturing without passing necessary environmental tests and emitted polluting fumes for about three years despite warnings from Fujian's Environmental Protection Bureau. But the document did not refer to water and soil pollution from the chemical project. The report, conducted by the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences and commissioned by the Xiamen government, was released on Wednesday for 10 days of public feedback, the city government said on its website. One notice on the website encouraged residents to ask for the assessment report at city libraries but the suggestion was scrapped yesterday, possibly out of fears about a repeat of the June mass protest. Then, thousands of protesters demanded the government scrap its plans for the plant. The protests were the mainland's biggest middle-class demonstrations for years. 'We will reflect the opinions and suggestions collected through public participation in an objective, fair and comprehensive way,' Xinhua quoted Li Yanwu, from the research academy, as saying in Xiamen. 'As to whether a suggestion is accepted or not, we will give explanations.' Though some people like Mr Lian are optimistic that the government will not be able to go ahead with the project, there are still a few pessimists who say the environmental impact assessment report will not be enough to stop the project, given that billions of yuan have been borrowed for it from state banks. 'The report is too vague,' plant critic and engineer Li Fan said. 'It admits the project causes pollution while saying the pollution is controllable. What if the government decides to relocate residents to make way for the chemical plant?' Repeated attempts to contact Xiamen authorities to determine how many people have given feedback on the report failed yesterday.