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Ideas Pour into Xiamen over Chemical Project
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The Xiamen government has received 1,557 opinions so far from local residents since it began seeking ideas from the public last Friday on the future of a huge chemical project whose construction it has suspended, China News Service reported today.

Xu Mingyao, secretary general of Xiamen Municipal government, yesterday told media that many residents had urged the government to speed up the reassessment of the environmental impact of the plant and reveal more about the project to the public.

Some veterans who have worked in chemical industry for a long time support the project and say the environmental problems can be solved, Xu said.

Other residents want the government to cancel the project because it will pollute the city's environment, Xu said.

Xu said the government has sent the opinions submitted on the issue to assessment institutes.

The city, in East China's Fujian Province, announced to halt the construction on a paraxylene plant last week and said it would conduct a six-month reassessment of the environmental impact in the wake of a public outcry over pollution and health issues.

The 10.8-billion-yuan (US$1.35 billion) plant, operated by the Tenglong Aromatic PX (Xiamen) Co, a company formed by the Taiwan-funded Xianglu Group, was expected to add 80 billion yuan to the city's industrial output annually and to be China's largest producer of paraxylene, a petrochemical that goes into polyester and fabrics.

But local residents compared it to an "atomic bomb" and sent nearly one million text messages via cell phones to their friends and family members, urging the government to cancel permission for the project.

Paraxylene is a highly polluting and carcinogenic petrochemical, which will also increase the chance of fetal abnormality.

(Shanghai Daily June 4, 2007)

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