Pollution Shutters Chinese Photovoltaics Factory



Factory in China on Yangtze River.

Factory in China on Yangtze River. Image by High Contrast Copyright: CC BY 2.0

Vehicles were overturned and windows smashed during protests at a JinkoSolar Holding Company factory before police dispersed a mob consisting of hundreds of protesters. Some protesters even managed to gain access to the factory pillaging offices. More than 20 protesters were detained for charges ranging from public disorder to vandalism. In addition to protesters three factory employees were arrested after attempting to interfere with news reporters filming the protests.

Local villagers cited toxic smokestack emissions and factory wastewater entering streams causing large fish die offs. Government officials testing canal water found fluoride levels were 10 times higher than acceptable. Some claimed that incidences of cancer had been very high in recent years since the plant began operations but the government and company called these claims unfounded. A 33 year old man was arrested for “spreading false information” about this online.

Pollution has become a major problem for both Chinese manufacturers and green technology advocates. In August thousands of protesters converged in the city square of China’s Dalian to force the closure of a paraxylene plant. Jinko Solar Holding Co’s plant had been in violation of pollution testing as early as April of this year. This was in spite of the following statement made by company spokesman Jing Zhaohui, “Zhejiang Jinko has always paid a great deal of attention to environmental issues and complies with and follows the state’s relevant demands”, who went on to apologize for these recent incidents.

Environmental violations and poor waste management from photovoltaic plants have caused negative public sentiment towards the entire solar industry. Although solar panels produce zero emissions during operation their green reputation relies on conscientious manufacturing and disposal of harmful waste and end of life panels.

While such protests rarely succeed in affecting change the government relented and has shut down the plant. State run newspaper Global Times was quoted Monday as saying, “The public is increasingly adopting a zero tolerance attitude against pollution,” suggesting that attitudes of both government and public are changing.

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Comments

  1. Henry Tran says:

    It is sad that a company geared towards making renewable energy possible, would be caught in a situation like this. While it may not sully the good name of solar power, it should remind us the proper conduct of these companies should also be check regularly. Good on the Chinese government for stepping up and doing the right thing.

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