Protests Turn Violent in China Over Sewage Plant Smell

Protests drawing up to 10,00 people flared in eastern China over a powerful stench from a sewage treatment plant with 10 people hurt in clashes, residents and a human rights monitor said Tuesday.

The demonstration occurred Monday when angry villagers from Fujian province's Fengwei town confronted 2,000 riot police over a wastewater treatment plant that had fouled local air and water, Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said.

At least 10 people were injured when the demonstrations turned violent and riot police fired warning shots, the center said in a faxed statement. Two police cars were smashed and protesters took several government officials and factory workers hostage.

A statement by the Quanzhou Communist Party's propaganda department acknowledged the protests, saying when workers prepared to enter the factory they were obstructed by villagers.

The wastewater treatment plant had a problem that sent a major stench through the area on Aug. 19, the statement said. Villagers protested over several days, but the biggest demonstration came Monday

One resident who lives 330 feet (100 meters) away from the factory said the stench was unbearable.

"People would puke or faint when they smell it," she said, refusing to give her name for fear of reprisals.

Mass protests over pollution and other environmental problems occur regularly throughout China.