Act against metal poisoning now
The fact that Daxin county officials in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region did nothing to help farmers guard against contamination of soil by heavy metals despite several warnings shows that we need to establish a mechanism to protect people’s health and livelihood, says an article in Beijing News. Excerpts:
Media reports say untreated wastewater and metals from a closed lead-zinc mine have contaminated nearby farmlands and caused serious illness, even disability, among villagers. Thanks to the reports, local authorities have now promised to start environmental pollution management and relocate the affected villagers soon.
In fact, as early as 1999 more than 200 villagers sued the mine, which was in operation then, and wonthe case. Also, local authorities have known that cadmium content in the rice grown locally far exceeds the national limit.
But neither the verdict in the lawsuit nor local authorities’ knowledge about metal poisoning brought relief to the villagers. After paying a small amount of compensation, the mine was declared bankrupt and the owners left the toxic mine with all its contaminating byproducts to make life a bigger hell for the villagers.
Quite a fewvillagers have been suffering from diseases related to heavy metal poisoning since 2000. And some village representatives have even appealed to higher authorities in Beijing for help. The only solution is to stop farming on the contaminated farmlands and provide at least eight months’ food grains to the villagers.
Local authorities appear ready to help the villagers now because of public pressure. Local officials are normally reluctant to deal with pollution-related issues and there’s no regulation that can force them to take immediate action.
Since we cannot rely on some officials’ conscience for help, a mechanism should be established to protect people from heavy metal poisoning and safeguard their health and livelihood.