Foxconn Plant Raises Environmental Worries

Foxconn Technology Group is being enticed to come to Wisconsin with numerous regulatory waivers, raising concerns from environmentalists who are wary of the company's reputation in China, where it has been accused of polluting rivers.

The Taiwan-based company best known for manufacturing Apple products insists that its new plant won't damage the environment. Regulators say they're simply streamlining the process for the company to set up shop, while still policing its activities.

But this being Foxconn's first plant in the U.S., the assurances from the company and its supporters have done little to quell worries about the long-term impacts to wetlands and the state's waterways. Foxconn would be producing liquid crystal display panels, or LCDs, for computers, televisions and other devices.

Making LCDs requires heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium, chromium, zinc and copper, said Peter Adriaens, professor of environmental engineering at the University of Michigan. But companies in China don't have the same disclosure requirements as companies in the U.S. for the materials they use, Adriaens said.

"We know that outside manufacturing plants of Foxconn, rivers are very polluted," he said. Less stringent oversight in China makes it difficult to know for certain if Foxconn is responsible, but, he added: "The correlation is very strong, let's put it that way."

Foxconn told The Associated Press that it is committed to "minimizing the negative impact of our operations on the environment."

"In line with this, we will be implementing measures for our Wisconsin campus in areas, including environmentally friendly product design, carbon emission reduction, process management, energy efficiency and resource management, and supply chain management, among others," the company said in a statement.

The company also said it has "a very good environmental record in China and in all other locations where we do business" and that "as part of our effort to create a sustainable business,...

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