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Villagers storm Chinese solar factory over alleged pollution

Hundreds of demonstrators smash windows, overturn cars


September 19, 2011
by The CANADAN PRESS

BEIJING—Hundreds of people in eastern China have demonstrated in recent days against pollution they believe is caused by a solar panel factory, some of which stormed the compound and overturned vehicles.

More than 500 villagers in Zhejiang province’s Haining city gathered in front of the Zhejiang Jinko Solar Co. Ltd. factory last week demanding an explanation for the alleged pollution.

The company is a subsidiary of a New York Stock Exchange-listed Chinese solar company, JinkoSolar Holding Co.

Some of the protesters charged into the factory compound Thursday, overturned eight company vehicles and destroyed its offices. On Friday, demonstrators damaged four police vehicles.

The factory’s waste disposal has been failing pollution tests since April and despite being warned by authorities, the plant has not effectively controlled the pollution, according to China’s Xinhua News Agency.

One villager told the agency the factory discharges waste water into a river and spews dense smoke out of a dozen chimneys.

The latest protests also expose the dirty side of clean energy. Along a similar vein, China has seen scores of protests by villagers in recent years over lead poisoning. The soaring use of cars and electric scooters is driving strong demand for lead acid batteries and their production and recycling are a key source of lead contamination.