A solar-panel manufacturing plant in the eastern Chinese city of Haining has been forced to close after hundreds of residents attacked the facility in a 4-day protest over accusations the factory contaminated a nearby river, according to the BBC.
The riots began on Thursday and lasted until Sunday, at times turning violent.
About 500 villagers unleashed their anger by overturning eight vehicles, damaging four police cars, and destroying offices, reports The New York Times. At least 20 people have been arrested on charges of destruction of property, robbery and disturbing public order, according to The Los Angeles Times.
The plant, which is owned by New York Stock Exchange-listed company JinkoSolar, is accused by demonstrators of dumping toxic levels of flouride into local waters, killing large numbers of fish and some pigs.
In addition to ordering the plant closed, the city’s environmental protection bureau fined the facility 470,000 yuan ($73,600).
“[We will] go all out to maintain stability and seriously deal with those who are suspected of violating laws in the incident in accordance with the law,” a city government official said in a statement.
This isn’t the fist time local uprisings over fears of pollution have spurred Chinese authorities to take action, as the country struggles to maintain its image as a pioneer in green energy.
Last month, 12,000 demonstrators took to the streets to protest a chemical plant in Dalian in northeast China, before authorities promised to relocate the facility.
More recently, The Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau ordered the temporary closure of two factories amid fears of lead poisoning.
“People have a growing awareness of the damage caused by environmental pollution and a growing sense of rights,” Ma Jun, the director of the nonprofit Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs in Beijing, said in an interview last month, according to The New York Times.
Watch footage from the Haining protests below:
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