A county government in East China’s Jiangxi Province said no one was injured after police reacted to a protest involving a crowd of villagers outside a polluting factory’s gates on Tuesday.
At least 10 residents from Nanling township were detained by police for demanding a shutdown of a polluting chemical factory, according to the website of Singapore-based Lianhe Zaobao.
Thousands of residents gathered in front of the gates of the Lotus Long Sen Industry Company and blocked the gate on Tuesday morning, the report said.
Several villagers were beaten by police sent by local government during the clash, and the injured were carried off by residents to block the nearby national highway in protest, according to the report.
A villager who refused to give his full name confirmed the report.
“About 100 policemen arrived at the national highway in the afternoon and arrested 10 residents,” he told the Global Times Thursday. “About seven residents were injured during the dispute including a 12-year-old boy.”
The injured were treated in ambulances sent by the local government to the scene, according to the witness, who said the elderly and the women among the arrested have since been released.
He Zhibin, an official with the publicity department of Lianhua government, which has jurisdiction over Nanling, did not agree at all with the anonymous man’s version of events.
No one was hurt in the clash, He said.
“There were too many people gathered in front of the company and the local government had to send police to maintain order,” He told the Global Times Thursday. “But as far as I know, no one was injured during the clash.”
Villagers’ protests against the chemical company erupted after the deaths of two children as the company was suspected of polluting the area over the last two years, the Lianhe Zaobao report said.
The company to be a power plant but secretly changed into a metallurgical refinery in 2009, the villager alleged. Since then, the company has discharged wastewater and gas that killed nearby trees and fish, the villager claimed.
After the children died for unknown reasons last year, the villager said, people generally suspected it had something to do with the pollution. Receiving no response from the local government, residents in March joined together to block the company’s outlet and discharge pipes.
But according to He, the local government had intended to address and clean up the discharge pipes of the company, but were prevented by villagers who thought they were unblocking them to let the company operate again.
“The company’s operation was halted months ago, and we promise it won’t resume production until we make sure it doesn’t pollute,” He said.