Chinese authorities Monday ordered the temporary closure of a solar panel plant in eastern China after local villagers staged four days of protests, accusing the facility of spreading cancer-causing pollution.
The protests began on Thursday, when more than 500 people gathered in eastern Zhejiang province to demand an explanation for the death of large numbers of fish in a nearby river. Demonstrators broke into the Jinko Solar factory, ransacking offices and overturning vehicles before being forced back by police.
One villager said her family is so frightened about pollution from the plant that they do not even open their windows at night.
Officials in Haining city said Monday that tests confirmed the plant had been discharging high levels of fluoride into the river.
But they said a man was arrested for spreading false rumors that industrial pollution had caused at least 31 cases of cancer among residents of Hongxiao village, which is part of Haining city. The officials said in fact there were four cancer cases in the village last year and two this year.
The factory is the second to be closed by authorities in response to public protests. Last month, officials ordered the shutdown of a petrochemical plant in the northeastern port of Dalian after thousands of people gathered outside government offices in the city to demand the relocation of the facility.
A company website says Jinko Solar, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, employs more than 10,000 people in plants located in Jiangxi and Zhejiang provinces.