One hundred residents of Xiamen city were picked by lottery on Tuesday to attend two public forums on a controversial chemical plant plan that was suspended earlier this year following persistent public protests over the threat of pollution.
The lottery was broadcast on TV and watched by the Xiamen municipal notary office. Another 100 people were selected by lottery as alternate representatives.
The list of representatives and alternate representatives would be published in local media, official sources said.
A total of 624 people had registered for the lottery and 105 were disqualified for providing invalid ID numbers, the sources said.
Members of the public had registered many suggestions by email, post or telephone with the municipal government or the Beijing-based Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, which is in charge of environmental assessment, since the local government began soliciting opinions for the forums last week.
The public representatives would be able to discuss their opinions and suggestions at the forums on Thursday and Friday.
"We'll treat the opinions and suggestions collected through public participation in an objective, fair and comprehensive way," said Li Yanwu, director of the academy's center for environmental assessment, at a press conference in the southeastern port city Wednesday. The potentially dangerous project, known as the PX (paraxylene) plant, was planned for the Haicang District, 16 kilometers from the city center, but the city government suspended the project on May 30 after coming under immense opposition from residents.
On June 7, the Xiamen municipal government announced that the construction of the chemical project would rest on an environmental assessment.
A month later, the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences was entrusted by the Xiamen municipal government with the assessment task. Li and his colleagues finished the report late last month.
(Xinhua News Agency December 12, 2007)