MAC/20: Mines and Communities

China Lead Smelter Poisons 2,000 - Paper

Published by MAC on 2006-09-07

China Lead Smelter Poisons 2,000 - Paper

Planet Ark CHINA

7th September 2006

HONG KONG - Two thousand Chinese villagers are being treated in hospital for lead poisoning which they say was caused by a local smelting plant, the South China Morning Post said on Wednesday.

The villagers, including 300 children, had travelled from their northwestern province of Gansu to a hospital in Xi'an in neighbouring Shaanxi because hospitals near their three villages had insisted they were fine, the newspaper said, quoting the local Huashang Daily.

Protests against polluting industries are common across China's countryside, where the environment has all too often been sacrificed in the pursuit of profits.

"We don't trust local hospitals because they said our lead concentration levels were normal, so we travelled to somewhere further away," Liu Jiangtao, from surrounding Hui county, was quoted as saying. "Everyone from our village has gone there."

County government officials told Reuters only two villages were close to the lead smelter and the county was still investigating how many people had been poisoned.

Another county official said only two villagers had been found to be sick and the smelter was shut down last month. Doctors at the Xi Jing Hospital in Xi'an, where the villagers were treated, declined to comment.

Authorities closed a factory and detained a manager and seven others following a chemical spill in the northeastern province of Jilin last month.

REUTERS NEWS SERVICE

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