Environmental Protest Round-Up 7 August 2009
Chinese protestors have partial success
One of last week’s protests appears to have borne results. The chemical plant in central Hunan that was the focus of protests by local residents has been closed ‘forever’ according to Chinese media. Production at the plant was halted in March but now the plant will not re-open. The Xianghe Chemical Factory was cited in a number of incidents in the region, and after the deaths of two villagers, who were discovered to have high cadmium levels during autopsy, around 500 of 3,000 residents were found to have high cadmium levels during urine tests. As well as the permanent closure of the plant, it seems that its directors have been detained by police and the head of the local Environment Protection Bureau has been dismissed. There is no information yet on free healthcare for those affected by the cadmium, but thirty local residents were hospitalised as a result of the urine testing programme.
Israeli citizens protest against air pollution
On 4 August Greenpeace protestors disrupted the running of a coal-powered electric plant in Ashkelon, Israel in protest at the proposed construction of two further coal-powered electricity production plants. They chained themselves to the plant’s entrance gate and sixteen activists were arrested some of them already inside the plant’s grounds. The protest is high profile within Israel with several well-known Israeli entertainers having taken part in a Greenpeace-sponsored short film that claims that the new plants will increase air pollution in the area, as well as reducing Israel’s chances of meeting its international commitment to reduce greenhouse gases.
Australian activists protest for Pacific islanders
On Thursday, four environmental activists spent the night chained to the coal loader of the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance’s Hay Point Export Coal Terminal in Queensland, Australia. Six Greenpeace protestors had already been arrested on Wednesday after chaining themselves to lower areas of the loader, but the four remained near the top of the fifty metre tall loader all night. Police had discussed removing the protestors but decided for safety reasons not to attempt a forced removal. The four finally came down voluntarily on Friday evening and gave themselves up to the police.
The protest is both about the failure of the Australian government to take tough enough action on climate change, and in support of Pacific Island groups who have asked for substantial emission cuts from Australia and New Zealand to help protect their land from rising sea levels.
Greenpeace activists courtesy of Greenpeace Media