Dead fish rose to the surface of a river near a solar panel factory in Haining, China. Screen grab from a video shown below.
In the eastern Chinese city of Haining, solar panels don’t have a very eco-friendly reputation. A solar panel manufacturing plant was forced to close its doors on Monday after four days of protests by angry residents who accused it of severely polluting a nearby river.
The protests at times turned violent. Demonstrators stormed the factory, smashed windows and overturned company vehicles as well as police cars. Amateur photos also show tense standoffs between police and protesters. The factory, which opened five years ago, belongs to Jinko Solar, a large company traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Local authorities ordered the factory to suspend production.
Policemen in riot gear face off with protesters on the evening of September 16. Witnesses say the woman on the ground was injured during clashes.
According to residents, it all started when heavy rainfall swept dangerous chemicals from the factory into the river on August 26. This, they said, killed massive amounts of fish, which rose to the water’s surface. According to state-run media, inspectors later found ten times the acceptable rate of fluoride in the river. On Tuesday, Jinko Solar apologized for the spill and promised to clean it up. Residents also blame the company for an unusual number of deaths by cancer in the region, which local authorities deny.
The protest underscores the rising level of anger over pollution in China, which has struggled to balance development with environmental care. It follows a similar protest in the north-eastern city of Dalian last month, when thousands of people protested against a new factory producing toxic chemicals. Authorities there promised to relocate the plant.
Protesters in Haining take down the solar panel factory's sign.
“If they hadn’t taken such drastic action, the factory would still be open”
Xiao Jun (not his real name) is a salesman who lives in Haining.
The solar panel factory’s closure is a major victory. People have benefited from the development of technology, but it also brings serious harm to the environment. We have gained some things, and lost others.
Jinko is endorsed by the government, which gains a lot from taxes on the company. I think this made Jinko believe it could do whatever it wants. I’m glad people aren’t letting companies get away with polluting the environment anymore.
I don’t think protesting violently is a good idea. Then again, if they hadn’t taken such drastic action, there wouldn’t have been such an impact and the factory would still be open. The government should learn something from this incident. Shouldn’t they be providing a way for people to defend their rights, while remaining inside the law?”
Protesters overturned police vans. Photo posted on Chinese social media sites
Haining residents filmed dead fish in a river near the factory.