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March 6, 2010

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Home » Metro » Environment

Villagers blame mill for spate of diseases

LOCALS in a Shanghai village are accusing a plastic workshop of poisoning them by discharging pollutants that induce cancers.

Lu Weiming, living in the Nanmen Village, said his 2-year old daughter was just diagnosed with leukemia. His 7-year-old son has tuberous sclerosis, a genetic disease that can be induced by polluted environment, and has the IQ of a 1-year-old.

Lu said that 14 villagers, among 40 to 50 households living near the factory, got cancer in recent years and four of them had died.

"Another two villagers got respiratory diseases, one of them became mute after surgery," Lu told the Shanghai Daily yesterday.

The plastic mill of the Zhaohong recycling station, which was recently shut down for lacking a manufacturing license, is less than 100 meters from Lu's home.

The mill's representatives could not be reached for comment. Local environmental officials said it was unclear if there was a "positive connection" between the mill's activities and the cancer rate.

The village Party secretary, surnamed Tang, said he had never heard of so many people with cancer in his village.

Tang said the factory was registered not for making plastics, but as a rubbish recycle station. He said the village's authority was investigating the factory.

Residents said rust-colored waste water directly ran from the factory into a river on the side of the village, and the smell around it was choking.

"My family had been living here before the factory opened eight years ago," Lu said last night. "We complained to the village administrative committee when my wife was pregnant but the officials there never took it seriously."

Lu said great amounts of benzene and its compounds were emitted during the plastic-producing process. He said the plant had no waste water processing equipment at all.

The Songjiang District environmental protection bureau said the Zhaohong recycling station didn't start to process waste plastic until February 2009, though the station had been open for eight years.

"It is unclear whether the pollution has the positive connection with the cancers," said an official surnamed Cao.

Last May, the bureau found the workshop was processing plastic without a license. In August, it ordered the factory to stop the illegal plastic production and imposed a 5,000-yuan fine (US$732), said an official surnamed Jin, who filed the punishment.

However, the factory continued production and ignored the bureau's order and the villagers' protests.

Songjiang district court issued a positive closing order last November, Jin said.

By yesterday, the factory had been closed with some of its facilities taken away, according to the village committee.


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