China Closes Solar-panel Plant after Protests

Following protests at a solar panel production facility in Zhejiang over pollution, the plant has been ordered closed, the Los Angeles Times reports:

The plant’s operator, JinkoSolar, a New York Stock Exchange-listed company, issued a public apology Monday.

“We cannot shirk responsibility for the legal consequences which have come from management slips,” Jing Zhaohui, a company representative, said at a news conference. Calls to JinkoSolar Holding Co. went unanswered.

Since the beginning of the protests, 20 people have been arrested on charges of destruction of property, robbery and disturbing public order, the Haining government said in a news release Monday. Protesters damaged eight company cars and four police cars Friday after police attempted to forcibly disperse the crowd, according to the release.

Protesters had demanded an explanation for a large number of dead fish found last month in a nearby river. Tests by the local environmental protection bureau found that the plant was emitting high amounts of fluoride, which can be toxic if it exceeds certain levels. According to state media, the factory had been failing pollution tests since April.

“Since they set up their operations here, there has definitely been an impact on the villagers here…. This pollution is definitely harmful to us,” a local man told Reuters news service. State media also quoted villagers as complaining of harmful emissions from the factory’s dozen smokestacks.

In addition to the order to halt production lines emitting potentially harmful waste, the government has fined the plant about $74,000.

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