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April 21, 2016

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Chemical plants told to close after pupils fall sick

TWENTY-EIGHT chemical factories at an industrial park in Haian County, east China’s Jiangsu Province, have been ordered to close following claims that pupils at a nearby primary school fell sick after breathing in noxious fumes.

According to a report yesterday by, the parents of more than 20 pupils from a single second-grade class claimed their children suffered nose bleeds and skin irritations as a result of a foul smell coming from the Haian Chemical Industrial Park, which is located about 3 kilometers to the south.

Haian Chengnan Experimental Primary School has about 1,500 pupils, but the report did not say if any children from other classes had been affected.

Despite the government ordering the plants to suspend their operations — which came after dozens of concerned parents gathered on Monday to demand action on the issue — the school remained open yesterday.

As a result, several more parents yesterday submitted a joint application for sick leave for their children until the issue is resolved, reported.

The county’s environmental protection bureau was cited as saying that a specialist firm has been recruited to carry out safety assessments in the area, the results of which will be published in due course.

The latest allegations of schoolchildren being made sick by industrial emissions came after China Central Television reported on Sunday that 493 pupils from the Changzhou Foreign Languages School in Changzhou, Jiangsu, had suffered health problems as a result of high levels of a noxious chemical in the local environment. The school is adjacent to a now vacant plot of land that was once home to three chemical plants.

Environmental assessment tests carried out in the area found that both soil and underground water samples contained high levels of the potentially harmful chemical chlorobenzene, the report said.

A similar investigation by Xinhua news agency said that despite the factories closing down in June 2011, pupils had complained of noxious odors for more than a year.

A program to clean the soil and water was reported to have been started in March 2014, but was still ongoing when the school welcomed its first intake in September 2015, it said.

The report claimed that about 100 pupils had been diagnosed with serious health problems as a result of exposure to chemicals, though the school on Monday said the allegations were false.

Of the 2,451 children on the school’s books, just three were currently off sick, it said.


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