The Ministry of Environmental Protection recently approved a suspended PX (paraxylene) project in Zhangzhou, a neighboring city to Xiamen, Fujian Province, and the decision signals a crucial step forward for the smooth launch of the giant chemical manufacturing facility with an investment totaling 14 billion yuan (US$2 billion+).
The Tenglong Aromatic PX (Zhangzhou) Co. Ltd. project is expected to process paraxylene with an annual capacity of 800,000 tons. Paraxylene, used as a solvent in printing, rubber and leather industries, can cause adverse health effects to humans who come into contact with the chemical through the soil or groundwater.
The project, initiated in 2006 by Xianglu Tenglong Group, the parent company of Tenglong Aromatic PX (Zhangzhou) Co., encountered a storm of protest from the residents in Xiamen City, the previous construction site selected by the chemical company. A temporary poll held online in 2007 showed that an overwhelming majority of 55,000 voters were opposed to the project while only 3,000 were in favor, People's Daily reported that year.
The Xianglu Tenglong Group had selected a construction site less than 1.5 kilometers from the populous Haicang District, housing two universities and thousands of residents. The project, with a planned injection of 10.8 billion yuan, one of the biggest investments in Xiamen, was halted under massive opposition, despite the company's assurances of low-toxin products and non-polluting assembly lines.
According to China Business News, a Shanghai based financial newspaper, the Ministry of Environmental Protection has reassessed the environmental impact of the project since November last year and confirmed their approval last Friday. According to the ministry, Xianglu Tenglong Group plans to commit 830 million yuan to pollution control.
The newspaper reported on January 12 that the ministry has also approved the 5-billion yuan construction of a PTA factory by Xianglu Petrochemicals (Zhangzhou) Co Ltd, and that the two projects are closely related. The PTA company plans to spend 700 million yuan on environmental protection.
(China.org.cn by Wu Jin, January 13, 2009)