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Locals win battery plant battle

By Chen Xiaoru (Global Times)

09:32, May 16, 2013

Local residents hold a red banner saying "I love Songjiang and defend it from being polluted" and take to the streets against the construction of a battery plant on May 11. (Photo: GT/Yang Hui)

The company behind the controversial battery plant slated to be built in Shanghai's Songjiang district has announced they will cancel the project Wednesday.

This follows concerns over the potential pollution effects, which prompted thousands of residents to take to the street in recent weeks to protest against the plant.

Local residents told the Global Times that they were very happy to see the withdrawal of the unwanted industrial project.

"The main reason for the cancelation is due to our persistent protests," a resident, who refused to give her name, told the Global Times Wednesday, adding that it was a victory for local residents.

The decision made by the Shanghai Guoxuan High-Tech Power Energy Company came to public attention in the form of a news ticker around noon during the district television channel's newscast.

In the announcement, the company said the withdrawal is due to different views held by local residents in Songjiang, adding that the land plot for the project will be given back to the government, and the company will not ask for a penny in compensation.

In an earlier gesture to dissipate residents' worries, the district government said in late April that instead of chemical processes, the factory would focus on physical production processes, including lithium cell production and battery assembly.

The project was to be sited on a 9.3-hectare plot in the Songjiang Industrial Park in Xiaokunshan township.

The unnamed resident said that during the most recent protest against the plant on May 11, more than 1,000 residents showed up. During the previous two demonstrations, residents drove cars bearing green ribbons and drove round the district government headquarters on April 21 and then marched around the same compound on foot on May 1.

While the Shanghai Research Institute of Chemical Industry that issued the project's environmental evaluation report, which was published on the local environment authority's website in September 2012, said the plant would barely cause any environmental pollution, residents were still concerned over the report's reliability.

Yang Wenwei, director of the institute in charge of the evaluation report, told the National Business Daily that there would be little pollution from the Songjiang plant, as the production line that could bring pollution is based in Hefei, Anhui Province.

The district government also said earlier that the factory would discharge 5 tons of waste water daily, which would be treated properly, contradicting the evaluation report, which said the plant would not release waste water.

However, a resident representative surnamed Liu told the Global Times that the environmental report only gathered opinions from 150 residents out of a huge number of nearly 80,000 inhabitants living near the proposed plant.

"Most residents didn't know about the project until April, when rumors started to emerge and some resident representatives confirmed the information with the company," said Liu.

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