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Pollution endangers people's health across China


15:42, February 24, 2013

BEIJING, Feb. 24 (Xinhuanet) -- In August 2011, a scandal drew attention to a small village in the city of Qujing in Yunnan Province. The Luliang Industrial Chemical Factory was found to have been illegally dumping poisonous industrial waste which contained chromium. Villagers in the area say that every year, at least six to seven of them die of cancer.

"Do you know how many people have cancer in your village?"

"A lot. I don’t know the exact number. I’m afraid there are about 30 to 40 people who get cancer every year."

"I don't know."

"Intestinal cancer, lung cancer, liver cancer...I know four people who have cancer, three of them died."

Local officials gave us an optimistic answer to the same question. Based on our survey, there have been 14 cancer patients in the nine years from 2002 to 2010. Rather than sorting the exact numbers of cancer patients, the villagers would rather know whether their cancers have been caused by the factory’s waste. More people have begun to get sick since chemical factories opened here.

Cancer patients in the village have complained many times only to get a response asking them to prove their cancers were caused by chromium discharged by chemical factories. But are villagers capable enough of proving that?

Yunnan province is not alone. The latest scandal happened in Shandong Province. A microblogger revealed that many chemical factories, alcohol plants, and paper mills in the city of Weifang discharge polluted water a thousand meter deep underground into water table using high pressure techniques.

The information soon became the spotlight of media. An investigation was carried out into more than 700 companies in the city, without any underground water pollution being found.

On February 18th, an official from the Weifang Environmental Protection Bureau said that this was technically impossible.

However the investigation found that a pigment plant left a lot of polluted water untreated when it stopped operating, causing a large area of land around the plant to become polluted.

Authorities should take proper measures to monitor pollution and provide figures. No matter what measures the government takes, just don’t let pollution hurt people’s health.

All people want is to protect their basic rights. But as pollution scandals have been happening all over the country, it seems the road ahead for the government is quite bumpy.

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