Tag Archives: Anning oil refinery

Anning refinery fined for violation of national environmental laws

refinery

The Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection issued a modest fine over the weekend to anAnning oil refinery. While the “administrative penalty” did not specifically mention pollution, the facility in question has been the source of public concern and controversy since construction began in 2013.

Yunnan Petrochemical Company, a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corporation, was fined 200,000 yuan (US$31,000) for violating articles 19 and 24 of the national Environmental Protection Act. Specific details were not disclosed beyond mention of “significant changes and unauthorized construction” without the company filing required environmental impact assessment (EIA) documents.

However, the two statutes Yunnan Petrochemical Company was found to be in violation of are both concerned with the construction of factories or processing installations deemed potentially harmful to the environment. Article 19 is specifically concerned with the “utilization of natural resources”, and reads, in part:

The development and utilization of natural resources is bound to affect and damage the environment, [including] resources such as water, land, forests, grasslands, oceans, minerals…All types of exploitation of natural resources must comply with the relevant laws and regulations and fulfill ecological environmental impact assessment procedures according to law…and key construction projects, must comply with soil and water conservation programs should [or] otherwise will not be allowed to start construction.

In addition to the fine, the Anning refinery was ordered to shut down construction on the parts of the factory not in compliance with EIA requirements. Those sections will be allowed to reopen only after the proper documents have been submitted and approved by the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

The refinery, which processes “ten million tons” of petroleum each year, has been a source of community concern since construction began outside of Anning in 2013. Local residents feared the plant would produce the chemical paraxylene — an important ingredient in the manufacturing of plastic bottles and polyester clothing. If inhaled or absorbed through the skin, the gas causes varying degrees of damage to abdominal organs and the central nervous system.

Concerns over the potential danger the facility could pose to public health went viral on microblogging services, and led to large street protests in Kunming. The city’s mayor eventually addressed demonstrators, promising to look into the matter. However, no substantial news of a final decision was made public, and the refinery operated without further media comment until Saturday.

This article written by Patrick Scally was first published here on the GoKunming website on September 1, 2015.  Eastbysoutheast.com reported extensively on the the PX protest issue in Kunming in 2013.

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Filed under China, Current Events, Energy, Governance, SLIDER, Yunnan Province

Air pollution and Kunming’s prevailing rainy season wind patterns

Anning PetroChina

Click to enlarge image.

This image shows prevailing wind patterns during Kunming’s rainy season which runs roughly from May to October.  Strong southwesterly winds bring monsoons from the Bay of Bengal over the Burmese landmass into Yunnan province.

The red rectangle in the southwest corner is the site of the PetroChina oil refinery, the focus of a series of recent environmental protests by concerned Kunming residents.  GoogleMaps has detailed imagery of construction site’s layout.  The purple area to the north is Kunming’s city center, determined by the area inside of Kunming’s 2nd ring road and home to a population of approximately 2.5mn.

Winds passing over the 10 million ton PetroChina oil refinery will send toxic pollutants directly over Anning city and Kunming’s most populated urban districts.  Anning is Kunming’s largest satellite city with an urban population of 100,000.  Kunmingers often drive to Anning to soak in its famous hot springs (also predictably in the pollution path), but in the last 10 years, most of Kunming’s heavy industry moved to Anning in an attempt to reduce pollution in the Dianchi Lake watershed.

After passing over Anning, winds become more concentrated and pick up speed to shoot through three passes in the Xishan (Western Hills) mountain range.  The solid line represents the most voluminous wind channel.  It doesn’t take an expert to see that the oil refinery site was chosen at the most optimal point for dumping pollution onto Kunming.  Perhaps this is why city officials are reluctant to release data from the project’s legally mandated environmental impact assessment.

To make matters worse, a strong southerly lake effect wind, constrained by Kunming’s eastern hills, pushes all westerly winds northward into the city center as they break over Xishan mountain range.  This guarantees that nearly all winds that pass over the oil refinery site through Kunming’s downtown and finally into the city’s north district, home of an additional 1.5mn residents.  Kunming’s north district, currently undergoing a major urban facelift, is planned as one of the city’s new core urban centers with a projected population of 3 to 4 million residents by 2020.

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Law of large numbers: The growing gravity of Kunming’s environmental protests

Kunming’s ongoing protest against the construction of a 10mn ton petroleum refinery 40km from the city center continues to gather attention in China’s domestic media and in the international media.  Yet despite continuous coverage of the protest in China’s Global Times, South China Morning Post, the Telegraph, the Guardian, and most recently the Atlantic (among many other media outlets), questions concerning the gravity of the protests continue to pop up in online chat forums: Does a protest of 1000+ Chinese citizens in a city of 7 million have impact?  Given the numbers, does the average Kunming citizen know about this issue?  Can protests of this scale force changes to policy agendas?

ExSE’s answer to all three of those questions is an unequivocal YES.  Kunming mayor Li Wenrong would have not made an impromptu engagement with protesters last Thursday if he didn’t see the movement as a legitimate challenge to the status quo.  He followed through on his promise to open a Sina Weibo account by noon on 5/18 and since then he’s gathered more than 75000 followers.  Further, an online poll created after the initial 5/4 protest exceeded its limit of 100,000 responses within three days.  The poll asked a simple yes or no question: Should there be a PX plant in Anning? An overwhelming majority of 80% ticked “no.”  It’s no surprise that the poll’s weblink was eradicated last week.  Admittedly, there is no way of knowing whether Li Wenrong’s 75k followers are mostly from Kunming, and online polls are never without bias; but the large numbers undeniably say something and suggest that the 2000+ protesters are representative of a much larger group of concerned citizens. Continue reading

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Unstoppable: Kunming’s environmental protest movement takes a powerful turn

 

protest view

Kunming’s anti-PX protest movement broke through to new heights on Thursday as more than 2500 protesters took to the city’s downtown streets.  The unexpected success of this impressive NIMBY movement has empowered protesters to shift targets – what began two weeks ago as a movement opposing the construction of a polluting chemical plant attached to a PetroChina oil refinery 40km from the city center has evolved into a full blown protest against the entire 10mn ton oil refinery project.  Throughout the morning the protesters worked a powerful and persistent ground game breaking through rank after rank of public security forces to gain total control of Kunming’s downtown streets by noon.  Protesters marched in peaceful and non-violent demonstration for more than five hours under the intense Kunming sun and prompted an engaging appearance of Kunming mayor Li Wenrong who sympathized with protesters and promised immediate change – another breakthrough victory for this growing social movement. Continue reading

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Filed under China, Current Events, Economic development, Energy, Environment and sustainability, Myanmar/Burma, Uncategorized