Pollution sickens 1,300 Hubei farmers

More than 1,300 farmers in Jianli county, Hubei province, have been diagnosed with skin ailments after pollution from smelting plants entered waterways, contaminating several villages' water supply and tens of thousands of hectares of fields, the Shanghai Daily reported.


According to local officials, sick farmers from all the eight affected townships have received treatment. Medical experts are still investigating how the water, which was contaminated with cadmium, arsenic and vanadium, caused the skin ailments. The government in Jianli county has promised to tear down plants that use vanadium to produce profitable alloys.


A test showed that the amount of vanadium contained in the wastewater discharged by one of the four local plants was 78 times above national standards. Lin Zhixiong, deputy director of Jianli county, told the Changjiang Times that the plants’ legal representatives had been detained and their bank accounts frozen.


Local environmental authorities also tried to stop illegal smelting facilities from operating in 2006, but the plants reopened. The local government has recently taken to destroying equipment at illegal smelting plants.


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