Water pollution triggers conflicts in Fujian

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Water pollution has triggered conflicts between residents and a water processing factory in east China's coastal city Quanzhou, according to government sources Wednesday.

The incident took place in Fengwei Town of Quangang District in Quanzhou City, 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's government were injured and detained by the villagers.

The two officials were freed at 4 a.m. Tuesday, the official said.

The door of the plant was stilled closed on Wednesday. Many facilities and windows had been seriously damaged. A black car parking in front of the plant was destroyed.

The conflict can be traced back to Aug. 18 when the factory began trial operation. Facilities were broken then. Since then, the residents started to gather around the factory, the official said.

The residents told Xinhua that their lives had been seriously affected since the factory was established, as the wastewater was extremely smelly and the fishing resources had been polluted.

"The wastewater smells stinky. I feel dazed and want to vomit when I smell that water. Sometimes I just cannot eat anything," said a villager surnamed Liu.

Many villagers had fallen ill after the factory opened, Liu said.

The villagers said they lived on sea fishing and their fish and shrimps cannot be sold now.

"I grow two mu (about 0.13 hectare) of oysters, which could bring in 40,000 to 50,000 yuan (about 5,582 to 7,353 U.S. dollars) a year. But this year, I can only earn less than 10,000 yuan," said a villager surnamed Zheng.

Quangang District government had announced it will reinforce the monitoring of the plant and would provide free medicine to the villagers who had been affected by the waste water.

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 bureau, the official said.

The water processed by the plant is designed to be piped into the sea via a 2.9 kilometer-long pipe. The plant can treat five tonnes of water per day, a figure which is expected to rise to 15 tonnes.

Construction of the first phase of the plant was finished in December 2007 but it had not begun operation until Aug. 19 this year.

(Xinhua News Agency September 2, 2009)

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