Tag Archives: Sinopec

What does this mean for the politics of environmental justice?

26 Nov

What does this mean for the politics of environmental justice? (Onthegroundforum staff)

China is currently coming to grips with the conflict of interest inherent in government control of both environmental protection and economic returns at their publicly owned factories. Citizens object to placement of facilities in their back yards, most notably copper smelters and paraxylene factories.

Copper smelting contaminates surrounding areas with lead, something familiar to me from my home town of El Paso, where a decommissioned ASARCO smelter left a legacy of lead in the south of the city. Paraxylene damages liver, nervous system and eyes (see material safety data sheet from Amoco), but makes money for China because it is a precursor to plastic soda bottles and polyester fibers for clothing manufacture.
Could additional checks and balances, or public scrutiny of monitoring data, help keep factories on track for the safety of their surrounding communities? Can an existing government implement new checks and balances on its own operations? Is the situation much better here in the US where factories are privately owned but elected officials finance campaigns with industry contributions?

Prospect Journal

By Kirstie Yu
Staff Writer

Thousands of middle class protestors have risen up this year against chemical plant expansions in cities all over China, starting in Dalian (Liaoning province) in August 2011, Shifang (Sichuan province) in July 2012, and most recently Ningbo (Zhejiang province) at the end of October 2012. The concerns of these protestors lie primarily with the environmental damage and health risks involved with the potential pollution released into the city through toxic byproducts from the proposed paraxylene plant (Dalian), copper plant (Shifang), and petrochemical plant (Ningbo). The protests have ranged from nonviolent sit-ins and banner demonstrations to more violent riots with attacks on police cars and government offices. Police have arrested individuals, used tear gas to break up the crowds and even beaten some protestors, furthering frenzied riots and growing dissent against government plans.

Unlike how private companies primarily own the factories in America, government companies own…

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