Xiamen - an Environmental Model City under threat?

Updated: 30 May 2007
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The momentum to object a petrol chemical plant which is being set up in Xiamen backyard is gathering speed. The concerned residents and businesses have got together to petition their concern over the project, which is located at Haicang District.


Haicang District is linked to Xiamen Island by Haicang Bridge. It houses some of the Xiamen biggest industrial parks.


The controversial petrol chemical plant which has been given a green light by the local foreign investment authority is the central focus in the latest development in Xiamen environmental issue.


Prompted by the expressed concern made by the local residents, scholars and experts, Xiamen Deputy Mayor Ding Yan announced to a press conference this morning that the 10.8 billion yuan Para-Xylene (PX) chemical projects will be postponed.




What is Para-Xylene (PX) and why it is polluting?


Benzene is a by-product of paraxylene and it is a toxic chemical that occurs naturally in the environment but is also used by man in a wide range of products. Exposure to this chemical can result in a range of side effects, which can be acute or chronic, and can be deadly. Long term exposure or high level exposure to benzene can result in a number of ailments, and this chemical has been branded a class A carcinogenic by the Environmental Protection Agency.


Those exposed to Benzene regularly or in high doses, particularly those regularly exposed on an occupational basis, are at risk from the cancerous effects of the chemical. Benzene is linked with an increased risk of leukaemia, and some of the cancers associated with this chemical include: acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), hairy cell leukemia (HCL), non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), Hodgkin's disease, multiple myeloma, myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS).


It is estimated that the petrol chemical plant will generate 800 billion yuan in industrial output value in the first year of operation. But, the costs of environment impact for Xiamen, a model city of China for its excellence in environment management is hard to estimate.


Dubbed "China's coziest city", Xiamen has a pleasant climate, picturesque views and clean and tidy environment. In 2002, Xiamen received the Gold Medal at the "International Nations in Bloom" competition in Stuttgart, Germany. Domestic awards have included "National Sanitary City", "National Garden City", "National Model City for Environmental Protection", "National Excellence in Tourism", "National Top 10 Most Livable Cities“ and "National Habit Award". In 2004, Xiamen is world's only city to win the 2004 UN Habit Award.


Xiamen may be a China Environment Model City under threat. Can the pollution potential risk be managed? This is a billion dollars question and all the residents' health in Xiamen this generation and the generation to come.



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