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Chinese municipal leaders shut down chemical plant in response to local protests

The New York Times reports that municipal leaders in a northeastern Chinese port city announced plans to shut down a chemical plant on Sunday after thousands of protesters confronted riot police officers and demanded that it be closed because of safety concerns. The decision in the port city of Dalian, in Liaoning Province, represents an uncommonly rapid response by the authorities to public anger. The chemical factory in Dalian manufactures paraxylene, a raw material used in the production of polyester. Paraxylene vapor can cause eye and nose irritation and, in high concentrations, lead to death. The chemical factory in Dalian sits 50 yards behind a sea wall. A tropical storm pushed ocean waves, some of them topping 60 feet, against the wall a week ago, breaching the barrier and raising worries that chemicals might leak from the factory.

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