MAC: Mines and Communities

More lead poisoning and slave labour reported from China

Published by MAC on 2010-07-17
Source: China Daily (2010-07-05)

Another child lead poisoning case has been discovered in China - nine months after the previous ones. See: http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=9558

A year ago, we reported that several hundred young people, many of them with learning difficulties, had been kidnapped and sold to brick kilns in the Chinese provinces of Shanxi and Henan.

The appalling news reverberated through the country and beyond. See: http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=9348

Now, there’s been another expose of the torture and abuse of migrant brick workers from Hebei province, which borders both Shanxi and Henan.

Children near battery plant poisoned

China Daily

By Shi Yingying

5 July 2010

A battery manufacturer is being blamed for the lead poisoning of four children aged one to six in Gao'er village, Jiangsu province.

The local government has ordered the Nile Battery Co to suspend operations and has been providing free medical checkups for residents. The plant opened near the village in 2007 with investment from an entrepreneur from Jiangsu's Taicang city. The factory head, surnamed Hu, has gone missing since June 29.

Chen Lin, whose house is located about 150 meters from the factory, did not know the vomiting and loss of appetite of her children, aged one and six, were caused by pollution.

The 30-year-old came to the realization when a medical promotion campaign provided the family with free checkups in June and a blood test found excessive lead in the children.

"Even now, all I can do is lock the older one up at home to keep him from playing outside and keep my baby in my arms," Chen said.

After the initial checkup, she took her children to Suzhou Jiulong Hospital for more tests. Medical certificates issued on June 16 showed the one-year-old has 149 micrograms of lead per liter of blood, and the elder son had 160.

Adults are diagnosed with lead poisoning if they have 200 micrograms of lead per liter of blood, while the standard for children is 100. Some developed countries draw the line for children at 60.

Gao'er residents said that while only four of the 61 local children's blood tests confirmed they had more than 100 micrograms of lead per liter, at least eight children show lead poisoning symptoms.

"The acrid odor of lead powder has long forced us to keep our doors and windows closed, and now, the children are getting lead poisoning. We can't take it anymore!" villager Wang Yin said.

"Even if the factory contributes to the national tax revenue and solves our unemployment problems, I'm still opposed to it because it's at the expense of our health."

The factory pays 3 million yuan in taxes annually and employs 300 workers.

Local official Zhou Hao said 61 children in the village had received medical examinations and the government is offering free checkups for adults, too. Zhou also said the government provided 5,000 yuan to every family with a sick child to help cover medical fees.

 


 

Kiln using Slave Labour raided in Hebei

China Daily

31 May 2010

Black brick kilns with slave-like laborers have resurfaced in China, as 34 migrant workers were set free by a police raid in Hebei province, local media reported on Sunday.

A total of 11 suspects including the kiln's owner and foremen are under criminal detention, local police told the Hebei-based Yanzhao Metropolis Daily. The investigation is ongoing.

The men running the brick kiln, located in a remote village near the Hengshui city of Hebei, duped 35 migrant workers into working at the kiln, police said.

They forced the workers to do heavy labor 14 to 18 hours a day using beatings, electric shocks, threats and confinement, police said.

A migrant worker surnamed Song had to work 18 hours every day, and was beaten and shocked with electricity when he refused to work, the report quoted police as saying.

Song escaped from the kiln on May 18 and called the police. He said he had been taken to the kiln without any knowledge of the work conditions there. The foreman beat Song with a club after he discovered and foiled Song's first escape attempt, the report said.

Song also complained that he had not received any pay at the kiln.

Police conducted a raid on the kiln on May 21 and set free the 34 other workers, none of whom came from the area. A device used for electric shocks was found at the kiln.

The brick kiln's owner, a man surnamed Li from the local village, and the foreman surnamed Cao, were detained along with the other people running the kiln, according to the police.

Of the rescued workers, 25 have returned to their homes with police's help, the report said. The local civil affairs authority is looking after the other nine workers because they cannot get in touch with their families at present.

The case in Hebei revived the public's memories of the notorious "black brick kilns" that caused outcry nationwide three years earlier.

In 2007, brick kilns in Shanxi and Henan provinces were found to be illegally confining teenage workers and forcing them into heavy labor. Some workers were seriously injured by foremen's beatings at these workplaces dubbed "black brick kilns" by Chinese media.

The central government then launched a national campaign to crack down on illegal kilns, mines and workshops. Within two months, some 1,340 people were rescued, 367 of whom were mentally handicapped.

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