The Changsha division of Chinese carmaker BYD has been in the public spotlight during recent days following allegations of damaging pollution, domestic media outlet China Philanthropist reported Saturday.
Beginning in April, some citizens and their children have been found to be unwell in several residential quarters near the factory of BYD in Changsha, the largest city in central China’s Hunan province. The main symptoms are frequent nosebleeds, dizziness, nausea and chronic coughing. A resident said, “Since April this year, a strong pungent smell has filled the whole community, especially at night, so that I could not open the window.” They claimed the source of this pungent smell was the BYD Changsha facility.
According to public information, BYD’s Changsha company was established in August 2009 and put into production in 2012. It is the first project of the group in the central part of China, with 17,000 employees and an accumulated investment exceeding 10.7 billion yuan ($1.6 billion). It is BYD’s strategic base featuring new energy vehicles with the most complete product lines making passenger cars and commercial vehicles.
Chinese national standards require that the location of automobile factories in relation to residential areas should consider wind direction, frequency and topography, so as to minimize industrial pollution to the atmospheric environment of residential areas. According to different wind speeds, the standards stipulate that the distance between factories and residential areas should ranges from at least 300 meters to 500 meters. However, residents near BYD’s Changsha factory said that some communities are less than 100 meters away from the company.
Automobile industry insiders pointed out that in the process of vehicle manufacturing, significant amounts of chemicals are often used for various purposes, resulting in the emission of pollutants. If not handled properly, they will have an impact on the nearby atmosphere and water.
In addition, many public government documents show that BYD’s exhaust emissions of the Changsha factory did not meet national standards. As early as 2019, the official website of the Changsha Municipal Bureau of Ecological Environment showed that BYD’s Changsha division was added to the list of enterprises complained about by residents because of the pollutants emitted from the production exhaust of the spraying workshop.
Some residents bought their own testing equipment, and the measurement results also confirmed their concerns. According to China’s relevant national standards, indoor TVOC (total volatile organic compounds) value must be equal to or less than 0.60 mg/m3, although the value detected by the Changsha residents was 1.015 mg/m3.
There is no unified opinion among local government departments on whether the area is planned for industrial factories or residential areas.
As of Saturday afternoon, the local bureau responsible for ecological and environmental matters had not responded to this matter. Phone call records provided by residents showed that a government official admitted that it was “unable to do anything.”
A spokesman for BYD’s Changsha division responded: “At present, we have reported this matter, and the leaders are in a meeting and are ready to deal with it quickly.” Regarding whether there is environmental pollution, the individual said, “It is not clear.”