Since last Thursday, the Zhejiang JinkoSolar Company factory has drawn hundreds of protesters, some of whom overturned vehicles and ransacked offices inside the plant in the city of Haining, in Zhejiang Province.
At least 23 people have been detained by officials on charges of vandalism and public disorder, including a man accused of “spreading false information” about the impact of pollution from the plant, the Haining city government said on its Web site.
Three company employees were arrested after they tried to wrest television cameras away from reporters who were trying to film the demonstrations.
Village residents have complained about what they called toxic smokestack emissions and about factory wastewater that they say has killed a large number of fish. Government inspectors have confirmed that fluoride contamination was 10 times higher than acceptable levels after heavy rainfall swept improperly stored wastewater into a canal, according to the state-run news media.
Residents have also blamed the five-year-old plant for what they claim is an unusual number of cancer deaths, although local officials say such fears are exaggerated.
According to the Haining city Web site, JinkoSolar has been fined about $74,000. Company employees reached by phone on Monday declined to comment. JinkoSolar, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, reported revenue of about $360 million in the second quarter.
The protests, which lasted four days and drew as many as 500 people, followed a much larger demonstration last month in the northeastern city of Dalian against a plant that makes paraxylene, a highly toxic component of polyester products. Government officials promised to relocate the plant after 12,000 residents took to the streets in protest of the JinkoSolar Solar Panel plant.