Production has been suspended at a solar panel factory in China after residents blamed the plant for polluting the air and water.
The Zhejiang JinkoSolar Company factory has drawn hundreds of protestors, who reportedly overturned vehicles and ransacked offices. At least 23 people have been detained on suspicion of public disorder and vandalism, including a man officials say spread false information about the impact of the pollution. Three company employees were also arrested after trying to wrangle cameras away from television reporters filming the demonstrations.
Village residents have made complaints about toxic smokestack emissions and factory waste water they believe has killed large quantities of local fish. According to a government inspection, fluoride contamination was 10 times higher than acceptable levels after improperly stored waste water was swept into a canal by heavy rainfall. Residents are also attributing an unusual number of cancer deaths to the plant’s operations, although officials believe that is an unrealistic and exaggerated fear.
JinkoSolar has been fined about $74,000, according to the Haining City website. The company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, with a reported revenue of approximately $360 million in its second quarter.
The protests lasted 4 days and drew as much as 500 people. These protests are being compared to a much larger demonstration in the city of Dalian last month against a plant that makes paraxylene, a highly toxic component of polyester products. After 12,000 residents took to the streets, the government promised to relocate the plant to ensure safety of local residents.