Vil­lagers pay high cost for life be­side con­tam­i­nated river­bank

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION -

“Af­ter drink­ing the dirty wa­ter, many vil­lagers de­vel­oped can­cers of the di­ges­tive sys­tem,” a 32-year-old woman told me.

She added that peo­ple with can­cer can be found in ev­ery vil­lage along the river­bank.

This has been con­firmed by med­i­cal ex­perts. A re­port re­leased in June by the Chi­nese Cen­ter for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion said the can­cer rate along the Shay­ing River is much higher than nor­mal.

The county govern­ment has at­trib­uted the pol­lu­tion to his­tor­i­cal fac­tors, say­ing the river has been pol­luted since the 1980s.

In an­other can­cer pa­tient’s home, I tasted the wa­ter pumped from the well in his yard. It was muddy, with a salty and bit­ter taste.

The man bought two bot­tles of wa­ter and gave me one, say­ing, “Drink this, it’s safe.” He and his brother have to drink from the well. They can­not af­ford bot­tled wa­ter ev­ery day.

He told me can­cer has claimed many lives in the vil­lage, and that many vic­tims die at an early age.

Those who sur­vive strug­gle for a liv­ing, and must take a cock­tail of pills ev­ery day to stop their tu­mors from spread­ing.

“Dy­ing a nat­u­ral death has be­come an un­re­al­is­tic dream for vil­lagers here,” he said with a sigh.

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