Caixin OnlineEnvironment Zinc Agony in Hezhang
03.01.2013 19:26

Zinc Agony in Hezhang

A mining boom in Guizhou Province resulted in widespread dumping of toxic waste – but decades later, the local government is still unwilling to release official figures on pollution
By intern reporter Wang Jingfeng
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A zinc production facility in Magu


(Beijing) -- For more than a decade, many residents in Aweizhai, a small village deep in the mountains of Magu Township, Hezhang County of Guizhou Province, have complained of intense pains in their shoulder muscles, arms, lower back, legs and knees. They've been diagnosed with rheumatism by local doctors.

However, a 2007 study by researchers at Guizhou Academy of Environmental Science and Design found the soil in Hezhang contained excessive levels of cadmium. Caixin learned from local villagers that roughly 1,200 mu out of the total 25,500 in Magu Township were used for zinc extraction plants or waste dump sites. Local authorities have refused to release precise figures for polluted soil area, but experts say the symptoms that the villagers feel are similar to that of cadmium contamination.

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