Shanghai Battery Factory Raises Pollution Concerns

By Wang Liang, Epoch Times
May 6, 2013 Updated: May 7, 2013

Shanghai residents are suffering a rise in cancer rates due to environmental degradation – and public anger about the matter was demonstrated recently after officials had to shut down plans to construct a battery factory next to a river in the Songjiang District of Shanghai. 

The latest health threat to residents was a proposed lithium ion battery plant, but after protests the plug was pulled, according to official reports. 

The reasons for mass concern are clear: According to a new report from the regime’s Health and Family Planning Commission, China’s biggest city, Shanghai, also has its highest cancer rate–36,000 residents now die of cancer each year or 98 per day, with 54,000 diagnoses in 2012 or around 150 per day.

The proposed battery factory, owned by Guoxuan Group in Anhui Province, Guoxuan New Energy would be the country’s largest, covering 23.3 acres and costing $162 million to build. But residents never received notice of a public hearing for the development, and many knew nothing about it.

Thousands of locals gathering on May 1 to protest the construction were met by hundreds of armed police. The demonstrators shouted slogans and demanded to meet with the district Party chief. 

A local said on his blog that the police panicked after 4 p.m., when the protestors wanted to move to a busier area, and began to disperse the crowd. A conflict ensued with four protestors arrested, but released that evening, and several officers chased down a woman and beat her, according to Radio Free Asia.

The development application was previously denied in Anhui and Jiangsu Provinces. Residents in Songjiang suspect this was due to pollution, and hence strongly opposed the project being built in Shanghai.

According to a local netizen the factory is being sited next to a river upstream of two major drinking water intake points, Xietang and Songpu, which supply over 80 percent of Shanghai’s tap water to its 24 million residents.

A letter from the district authorities said the plant will discharge five tons of waste water daily, after treatment to make it safe, but a November 2012 evaluation report by the Shanghai Research Institute of Chemical Industry said there would be no waste water, the Global Times reported.

On April 29, the Communist Party’s propaganda department issued a notice to media “not to speculate, comment or produce follow-up reports” on concerns that the Shanghai Guoxuan New Energy project could pollute Songjiang District.

In March, more than 16,000 dead pigs dumped upstream in the Huangpu River led to fears that Shanghai’s drinking water was contaminated, which local authorities tried to deny. Of the 27 people who have died from H7N9 bird flu to date, about half of them were in Shanghai.

Translation by Hsin-Yi Li. Written in English by Cassie Ryan.

Read the original Chinese article.