Fujia Dahua Petrochemical Co., recently began operations at a paraxylene (PX) plant located in near urban areas and 12 miles from downtown Dalian City in northeastern China. The plant has caused widespread worry over potential health hazards to the area’s six million residents.
Fujia Dahua’s aromatics complex, with an annual capacity totaling 700,000 tons of PX, received approval by the National Development and Reform Commission in 2005. On June 21, 2009, the plant began operations, but without public awareness. A local journalist disclosed information of the facility on the Internet on July 19, triggering heated discussions and discontent among local people.
“It is against international conventions to build a large-scale chemical plant within 62 miles of the nearest urban area for safety reasons,” said Zhao Yufen, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, short-term exposure to PX can cause eye, nose or throat irritation in humans, while chronic exposure can affect the central nervous system and cause death.
The term “PX” gained a heroic meaning in the Chinese news in 2007 when residents of China’s southwestern Xiamen mounted a grassroots campaign against plans for the construction of a PX plant. The activists charged that the process lacked proper public participation during the Environmental Impact Assessment process and called for greater public involvement in such decisions.
Although the grassroots campaign in Xiamen succeeded in halting the plant, the future of the Dalian plant remains unclear.
Read the original Chinese article.