Act against metal poi­son­ing now

China Daily (Canada) - - COMMENT -

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.

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