Heavy Metal Contaminates Hunan』s Crop Land
The life-giving waters and mineral deposits
of the Xiang River in Hunan Province,
were gifts from heaven. But now they threaten
the very lives and the land of the local residents, there..
Huge tracks of land in Hunan,
China’s largest rice producer province,
are fast becoming permanently unproductive lands,
as the result of various forms of pollution.
According to an insider, it’s difficult to solve
China’s pollution problem due to the collaboration
between officials and businesses.
Hunan’s “Mother River," it is now among China’s
most polluted bodies of water, due to the fact that
mining and industrial facilities continue to
illegally discharge their industrial waste
and heavy metal pollutants directly into the river.
Xiang’s water, in turn contaminates the surrounding
arable lands, making them permanently unproductive.
This is exactly the case in Jiangshui Village,
Jiangshui Town, in Yizhang County.
Huang Yuanxun, a resident of Jiangshui Village said:
“When the water beneath the mines,
which carries heavy metals, flows onto the land,
it"hardens" the soil making it unproductive.
Crops don’t grow well or they turn yellow and die."
According to an insider whose village produces
iron ore, water discharged from the mines
has destroyed the surrounding croplands.
Villagers were punished for appealing
to the government. About 500-600 villagers
are forced to work in the iron mines,
because their lands no longer yield any crops.
Mr. Zhao, a villager, said: “Residents protested last
year because of the various pollutions and the fact
that the mine collapsed, but instead of being happy
to address the villager’s complaints, government
personnel forcibly arrested and beat the villagers,
leaving the problem unsolved.
Since most water sources are mainly used for
drinking purposes, the water shortage we now face
makes our situation even worse."
Mr. Cao, from Chishi Town in Yizhang County,
told Sound of Hope Radio, that their village
has the same problem. The local mines have polluted
the town’s water supply, which in turn
ruined their land. Due to the collaboration between
officials and businesses,
this problem cannot be solved.
Mr. Cao said: “The local authorities reap huge profits,
especially the secretary of the district politics and law
committee. He and his relatives, who own the majority
of stock in the various local mine industries, are always
trying to protect the interests of their industries."
Accidents caused by heavy metal pollution happen
all the time in Hunan. In 2004, two middle-aged
villagers in Changsha City died due to high levels of
cadmium in their bodies. In 2006, a urine test of 500
residents who drank Xiang’s water in Xiangtan City
showed: 30 percent had excessive cadmium levels
in their body while 10 percent needed to receive
special medical treatment, according to
national occupational disease management standards.
In July 2009, due to presence of heavy metal in
the drinking water and the soil, some villagers
in Liuyang City died of cadmium poisoning.
Over 1,000 villagers protested
outside of the county municipal building.
Staff from China’s Environmental Protection Bureau
said that the heavy metal levels in some sections of
the Xiang River, is hundreds of times greater than
the national safety limit. In vegetable samples
obtained from Qingshuitang, in Zhuzhou City,
environmentalists found the level of cadmium to be
65 times higher than the national limit,
while mercury was 186 times, and lead was 66 times.
Chen Faqing, praised as “China’s Don Quijote" by
Germany’s Die Welt, has worked over 10 years’
in China’s environmental protection sector.
Last December, Chen pointed out that China’s
overall environment was getting increasingly polluted.
He also sited that the criminal collaboration
between officials and those businesses
that have grossly polluted the environment,
was the main reason. Many officials own
these same companies that pollute the environment
Besides Hunan, some areas in Jiangxi, Yunnan, and
Guangxi Province in Southern China, are also facing
heavy metal contamination. The soil in
Guangdong’s Pearl River Delta contains excessive
heavy metals and nearly 50 percent of
the studied areas contain toxic levels of lead.
Experts say that heavy metals such as lead,
can remain in the environment for several decades,
and in soil for 100 years.
According to New Century Weekly, many experts
believe that, in the future, heavy metals will overtake
farm chemicals as the number one pollutant and
greatest source of industrial accidents in China.
NTD reporters Wu Wei and Li Lu.