September 20th, 2011
04:27 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – The lights are out at Jinko Solar. After three days of sometimes violent protests, China closed one of the company’s solar panel manufacturing plants.

The place: the town of Haining, about a two-hour drive southwest of Shanghai.

The reason: residents allege Jinko’s plant caused a mass die-off of fish and a cluster of cancer cases, including leukemia, in the local populace. 

The admission: Jinko Solar now says pollutants, with fluoride levels exceeding normal limits, may have washed from its factory into a nearby river because of improper storage.

Anger first erupted on Thursday when more than 500 people gathered outside Jinko’s factory gates demanding answers. Some protesters broke into the company compound, overturning several cars and damaging buildings.

By Monday, local police said they had detained more than 20 people - some protesters for stealing and a handful of Jinko employees for destroying the camera of two local journalists - and local officials had forced the factory to go dark.

It appears that was a long time coming.

According to local environmental authorities, Jinko had failed an environmental standards test in April. It had also been fined RMB 470,000, or nearly $75,000. A test of the river further proved its water was polluted but Jinko’s operations were not halted - until Monday.

Villager frustration would be understandable.

Along with that emotion on the streets, it also came to a boil online on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.

A few messages convey the mood.

@yihaoyanzi wants authorities to be more responsive and responsible.

“Everyone is following the Jinko issue…can the progress and result of the incident, especially the final rectification plan be released in time? It’s the era of internet. When the people have new demand for the government, the government should respond actively.”

@buguoshiyizaidechengqiang had a simple message for the solar panel factory. “Get out of Haining, Jinko.”

And @fendouhua anticipated Jinko Solar would hemorrhage losses because of its alleged environmental damage. “Jinko Energy itself will pay a heavy price for its pollution problem. If its stock price falls 7-8% everyday, even with 10 billion RMB capital, it won’t last long. Therefore, the company should strictly obey relevant laws and regulations.”

And that last message couldn’t have been more appropriate. Since Thursday, when protests began, the share price of Jinko Solar’s parent company, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, has fallen 13.2%.

Helena Hong in Beijing contributed to this report.



soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Nick Kellingley

    It's worth noting that much of the "capital" will be from loans from provincial authorities who are unlikely to be in a hurry to see the back of Jinko. Though they are definitely going to have fix the pollution problem before they go back to work.

    September 20, 2011 at 4:46 am |
  2. Gordon

    This article does not explain why the solar plant is being blamed. Are they dumping something into the river? What are they dumping? Even if this is unknown, noting the allegations against the plant would be helpful. If even the allegations are unknown, a statement to the effect of: "it is unclear what the allegations are" would have sufficed. All the reader knows is that a mob attacked a power plant, and it got shut down. Not an informative article at all.

    September 20, 2011 at 7:08 am |
  3. JYHubert

    Where does the pollution come from in fact ?

    September 20, 2011 at 7:12 am |
  4. power4things

    Whoda thunk solar power was dangerous? Nuclear power fans will be so jelly

    September 20, 2011 at 8:55 am |
  5. Environmental_Chemist

    This is the dark side of so called "green tech". Photovoltaic cell manufacturing discharge great amount of heavy metals (Lead, Silver, Copper) as its waste water. Not including the air potential air pollution in acid gases and VOCs.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:09 am |
  6. Pranay Srivastava

    Another Classic CNN report ... Where the headlines and picture has no connection to the real story .
    The villagers are against the plant because they are dumping their factory waste in river and not because of any pollution caused by the actual solar plant ....

    September 20, 2011 at 9:41 am |
  7. Roger

    Comeon CNN, if "Pollution protests shut China solar plant", what kind of pollution? How did it happen? And are we talking about a) a solar farm generating energy or b) a plant manufacturing solar panels – BIG difference! Poor article.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:49 am |
  8. Andy

    Look,

    I just spent the last year in a Chinese city. There is almost no practical enforcement of environmental regulation in China. As they say, ten of the World's most polluted cities are in China. A normal day in most cities involves smog like you have never seen in the United States, sometimes like a dense fog.

    Companies, a large portion of whom are owned by the military or government, dump toxic chemicals and waste, etc, ALL of the time. There, the race for development and money knows zero bounds.

    This article could describe a daily occurrence across China.

    September 20, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  9. Georgy

    China is a polluted country, everywhere you go there is smog in the air, China has no clear policy for protecting the environment and we all know that so get used to it as this pollution is been happening for many years.

    September 20, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
  10. Guest

    We're worried about manufacturing all going to China because of the low costs but things have a way of balancing out. they cut costs because they cut corners, hurt the environment and wages are $1,000/year. This is no different from America's industrial age until the people demanded more rights and better business practices.

    September 20, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  11. oscar Melendez

    its not easy to get all da infos from china,they dont like others gossip their issue ( sorry for my eng)

    September 20, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  12. Agbeko

    Those contributors who say the article does not say how the pollution came about obviously didn't read beyond the headline.

    September 20, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  13. HG

    Please all read the article properly before commenting see excerpt Para 4 "The admission: Jinko Solar now says pollutants, with fluoride levels exceeding normal limits, may have washed from its factory into a nearby river because of improper storage" This should answer all your comments.

    September 20, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  14. jj

    Karma for stealing tech.

    September 20, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  15. Glenn

    There's a tremendous cost saving in doing nothing. Most capitalist world wide would like to environmental standards lowered at the expense of the environment. Time for them to move to a less developed country.

    September 20, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  16. eddie2010

    640,000 people and they are villagers.... Like calling San Francisco a village.

    September 20, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
  17. vkmo

    "die-off of fish and a cluster of cancer cases, including leukemia"?? <– It could also cause infertility!! Don't buy communist red china solar panels. Now US solar plants can go back into production.

    September 20, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
  18. China

    what?

    September 20, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
  19. Bill Rich

    When will people read the article we with some care before whining?

    September 20, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
  20. Homemade Solar Energy

    We are a gaggle of volunteers and opening a brand new scheme in our community. Your web site offered us with useful info to paintings on. You've done an impressive activity and our entire neighborhood can be thankful to you.

    April 3, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
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