Earlier this month, chinadialogue covered a report from Greenpeace
of a mining town in Yunnan province, in which it was discovered only after a corrupt top official was removed from power that children in the area have suffered lead poisoning likely through contact with mine waste discharged in the local river.
The mine owner was taken down with his official protection in the same anti-corruption investigation, making it easier for details of the situation to emerge.
With the two men detained on unrelated charges, what happens now to the children and who will be held responsible?
Photographer Shi Huaiji took these photos from the above-mentioned mine back in 2006, unable to publish them for the past 9 years.
“Quite a bit of waste from the mine was flushed into the Bi river. Impoverished villagers in surrounding areas had no choice but to roll up their trouser legs and wade through the Bi waters heavily polluted with heavy metals, scooping up the waste in exchange for mere pennies.”
A number of young children soon joined the flanks of panners, sifting for scraps of waste metal in the polluted waters.
When Lanping health authorities carried out blood tests in 2010, only 2 out of 61 children in a village near the mine were found with lead below the level considered safe.
See also: Chinese children suffer failure to tackle lead poisoning