SHANGHAI (Reuters) -- A Chinese city has opened an investigation into a factory owned by automaker BYD over allegations that emissions from the plant were causing nosebleeds among children living nearby.
Changsha city authorities said in a statement on Sunday it had sent an investigative team to BYD's factory to look into the allegations about its emissions.
The allegations first surfaced in mid-April on a website belonging to state newspaper People's Daily. Messages left by people living near the factory said the plant's emissions had a strong odor, irritated throats and gave children nosebleeds.
Local media reported over the weekend that residents gathered at the Changsha factory's gate on Friday to protest and urge the company to solve the problem.
Changsha is the capital of Hunan province in southern China and has a population of 10 million.
BYD said in a social media post on Saturday that all emissions from the factory were compliant with China's regulatory rules and standards on emissions.
The company said in the post it had taken measures to improve the impact of its emission on some residential areas next to the plant. It added, however, that it had filed police reports over the complaints about nosebleeds, saying these were groundless and malicious.
BYD did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Changsha city's investigation on Monday.
BYD' shares fell 4% on Monday.
BYD is China's biggest maker of electric vehicles (EV). Its EV sales increased nearly fivefold in the first four months of 2022 compared with the same period last year, even as the country's zero-COVID policies disrupted the operations and deliveries of many of its rivals.
BYD's Changsha factory, which started up in 2012, churned out 62,500 vehicles in the first quarter, a 271% increase from a year ago, according to local official media Rednet.cn.
That accounted about one-fifth of BYD's total output, according to a Reuters calculation.