Monday, September 19, 2011

China solar panel factory shut after protests over pollution kills large numbers of fish

A solar panel factory in eastern China has been shut down after protests by local residents over pollution fears.

Some 500 villagers staged a three-day protest following the death of large numbers of fish in a local river.

Some demonstrators broke into the plant in Zhejiang province, destroying offices and overturning company cars before being dispersed by riot police.

Tests on water samples showed high levels of fluoride, which can be toxic in high doses, officials said.

The BBC's Juliana Liu in Shanghai says the Chinese villagers see the plant's closure as a victory.

They accuse Jinko Solar, a Chinese company making solar panels for sale overseas, of dumping hazardous chemicals into the water supply, our correspondent says.

"We feel that it is socially responsible to close the factory first and to take corrective measures," company spokesman Thomas Jing told the BBC.

He said there had been accidental discharge into the surrounding area during a rainstorm at the end of August.

He said chemicals used at the factory had been stored in an open area rather than a warehouse, and that the covering had been ripped off during the unexpectedly harsh weather. more