Tag Archives: Petrochina

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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China’s media report on Kunming’s environmental protests

The English language discussion of Kunming’s ongoing environmental protests should not exclude China’s official media reports.  The translation below is of a 5/28 article from the Southern Weekend website.

Yunnan’s Anning City Retracts Notice on Face Mask Registration

from Southern Weekend (南方周末)May 28, 2013

More than 200 copies of a ‘Letter of Guarantee’ have been signed by vendors of advertising services, printing services, copy services, face masks, and t-shirts.  These vendors promise to strictly follow national laws and regulations regarding their commercial business and promise not to speak of rumors, create rumors, or spread rumors.  They promise not to participate in any form of information broadcasting, forwarding of messages, and not to participate in sit-ins, protests, or demonstrations of any kind.  They promise to not print, create, or publish things related to the Anning PetroChina Oil Refinery or the “China-South Asia “Expo or advertisements, propaganda materials, or any materials of negative influence.  This “Letter of Guarantee” goes into effect on the day of signing and is valid through June 30, 2013 and sales of all services above must also be accompanied by ID registration of the purchaser.  –Official statement from the Kunming Economic Development Zone Industry and Commerce Bureau. 

The exposure of Anning’s required ID registration of face mask purchases has stirred up considerable public debate.  On the evening of 5/25, the Anning City government’s press office issued a statement saying Anning’s Industry and Commerce Bureau will retract the notice on face mask registration.  But according to a report on 5/27, the “Procedure for registration of face mask purchases” was still in effect for much of the Kunming municipality and was not exclusive to Anning City.  Registration is still required for printing, copying, and publication services. Continue reading

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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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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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Mixed signals and smokescreens: Kunming’s government responds to Anti-PX protests

On Saturday, 5/11 anyone with cellular service registered to the Kunming municipality received two brief text messages concerning the city’s recent anti-PX protests.  Sent from the Kunming’s official propaganda offices, the messages when read separately state the key decision makers deciding the fate of the polluting PX plant are willing to increase transparency and engage with the public on this issue. However, when read together, the messages send mixed signals and suggest decision makers are creating a smoke-screen to stem a planned protest scheduled for later this week and buy time for the safe passage of the PX plant.

The first text message reads:

“Kunming Mayor Li Wenrong expresses that after the ‘By-products projects attached to the PetroChina Oil refinery feasibility study’ is finished at the end of July, he will use democratic decision making processes and stringently act on this issue in accordance to the needs of majority of the masses.”

This message suggests the mayor could follow China’s environmental law by conducting an environmental impact assessment (EIA) on the PX plant (the by-product project he mentions) and releasing the findings to the public.  It also suggests he could hold a public hearing before approval for the PX project is granted – another legal requirement.  Both of these measures were directly demanded at last week’s protests attended by more than 2000 participants in downtown Kunming, so perhaps the city government is willing to play ball AND more importantly,  follow the law.

The second text message reads:

“The CEO of Yunnan PetroChina expresses that the Kunming Anning Oil Refinery project is a fuel processing plant that producing State 5 Grade gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel.  This project will not include PX processing equipment and will not produce PX.”

Read separately, this message suggests the issue has concluded, and Kunmingers can put down their protest posters.  With no PX plant in the works, why show up for this week’s protest, right? Continue reading

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