Protest against petrochem plant in Chengdu fizzles out as police swarms in

BEIJING (AP) - Residents in a central Chinese city say calls for a protest against a petrochemical plant have fizzled after local authorities preemptively sent in thousands of police officers and security staff to the city's public venues.

Officials of Chengdu, provincial capital of Sichuan province, said police were mobilized Saturday for a citywide earthquake drill, but residents say the exercise was an excuse to increase a police presence after online calls urged residents participate in a protest against the plant now under construction in a satellite city.

The Chinese public have become more outspoken against environmentally risky plants, and several mass protests against such projects turned violent last year before local governments agreed to scrap the plans.

In Chengdu, residents are worried the plant is located in a region prone to earthquakes.