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SEPA Calls for Rethink on Plant
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The country's top environmental watchdog yesterday called on the coastal city of Xiamen to rethink its plan to allow the construction of a chemical plant and said an environmental impact assessment of the city's urban planning is on the cards.

It also called for the suspension of a proposed waste incinerator plant in Beijing's northern district of Haidian.

Pan Yue, deputy director of the State Environmental Protection Administration, said in a notice on the administration's website that he hopes the local government in Xiamen can consult its existing plan for the chemical plant and do its utmost to change the current juxtaposition of industrial sites and residential areas.

He said a comprehensive evaluation of the city's urban planning will start soon to see if the chemical project meets the required environmental safety standards.

The project to build a plant to make paraxylene (PX), a compound used in polyester and fabrics, was expected to generate annual revenue of 80 billion yuan (US$10.46 billion), but its planned location - 16 km from the city center - has sparked pollution fears among the public.

The city has suspended construction of the plant, but the public has demanded the government scrap the project altogether, something Xiamen's mayor said he would consider depending on the outcome of the environmental impact study.

Also in the notice, Pan said the planned location for an incinerator plant in northern Beijing is too close to both the city's drinking water source and residential communities.

In addition, due to its position, strong northerly winds could easily blow the plant's emissions southward onto other parts of the city.

Although the Beijing environmental protection bureau approved the plant's environmental impact report in January, local residents appealed to the municipal government to withdraw the approval.

Pan said in consideration of the project's serious nature, the Beijing government should assemble more experts to assess the project's potential environmental impact. He said the government should also heed public opinion.

The deputy director said many pollution problems relating to industrial and urban projects stemmed from inadequate environmental impact assessments during the planning phase.

(China Daily June 8, 2007)

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