Risk Managment Chinese Chemical Plant to Be Relocated After Protest Wave

Editor: Marion Henig

High waves of water had broken a dike nearby, afterwards thousands of people have protested against the Fujia Chemical Plant in Liaoning Province. This protest wave and the fear of a leakage brought the government to relocate the production site. The shutdown has started already.

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Satellite Photo of Dalian (Picture: Wikipedia)
Satellite Photo of Dalian (Picture: Wikipedia)

Dalian/PR China — In pursuance of the news agency Xinhuanet the controversial Dalian Fujia Chemical Plant in Liaoning Province, which had been ordered to shut down, initiated stop-production procedures on Monday, authorities with Dalian municipal government said Tuesday. Although the order to stop production "immediately" was issued on Sunday by municipal authorities, the intricacies of the production cycle meant that it could not stop directly due to safety concerns. With the stop-production procedures now in effect, no more raw materials have gone onto the production line. The municipal government held a meeting Tuesday afternoon to hear the detailed shutdown plan and will release the final timetable of the plant's closure soon, the authorities added.

The plant is a producer of Paraxylol (PX), a carcinogenic petrochemical used to create raw materials for the production of polyester film and fabric. More than ten thousand Dalian residents took to the streets on Sunday, demanding that the plant be relocated over concerns of potential toxic chemical leaks. "It's a time bomb," said one of the protestors, surnamed Wang. Calls to relocate the plant mounted after large waves whipped up by tropical storm Muifa breached a dike near the plant earlier this month. The dike was built to protect the plant from floodwaters. Residents have been concerned that a flood could damage the plant and cause it to release toxic chemicals. The critical issue is that the management, quality safeguard and risk control departments in the plant in Dalian are far below standards, said petrochemical industry insiders on the condition of anonymity.

An Unprecedented Warning

The plant, one of China's largest PX producers, was taken as a priority development in Liaoning, as part of a massive campaign to revitalize China's industrial belt in the northeast. It went into operation in 2009 and is capable of producing 700,000 tonnes of the compound annually, according to the company's website. The plant contributes 2 billion yuan (about 311 million U.S. dollars) to the local government in taxes every year.

The petrochemical is an industry with both high energy-consumption and high emissions, as well as one with safety risks, said an anonymous professor with the Dongbei University of Finance and Economics, located in Dalian. An oil pipeline exploded near a Dalian crude oil storage port in July last year. The explosion caused an oil spill of at least 60,000 tonnes, contaminating the sea waters which may need decades to recover its ecosystem. The explosion gave Dalian people an unprecedented warning. A municipal government official said it was fortunate for Dalian that the explosion did not ignite the PX and crude oil storage tanks nearby.