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Fujian Chemical Project Put on Hold
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This port city in east China's Fujian Province has decided to put a highly polluting chemical project on hold, authorities said yesterday.

"The Xiamen city government has decided to suspend construction of the PX (paraxylene) plant in Haicang District," vice-mayor Ding Guoyan told press after an internal meeting of the municipal government.

Paraxylene is a cancer-causing petrochemical. It is used to make purified terephthalic acid, a raw material for producing polyester film, packaging resin and fabrics. Health experts say it can cause fetus abnormalities.

The 10.8 billion yuan (US$1.4 billion) project by Tenglong Aromatic PX (Xiamen) Co Ltd was expected to generate revenues of 80 billion yuan a year. Its planned location, 16 km from the city center, raised public fears.

Ding said the project had passed an environmental evaluation by an expert panel before it was approved by the National Development and Reform Commission.

"Its evaluation and approval was strictly in line with China's laws and regulations," he said.

But the project has drawn criticism in the past two months. Some compared it to an "atomic bomb". About one million text messages were sent to pressure the government to cancel the project.

"The city government has listened to the opinions expressed and has decided, after careful deliberation, that the project must be re-evaluated," Ding said.

The planned location of the project is in a development zone in Haicang, a district with more than 100,000 residents.

One residential area is less than 1,500 m from the plant, and Gulangyu and Piano islands, the city's tourist destinations, are only 7 km from the site.

(Xinhua News Agency May 31, 2007)

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