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Posted Sat Aug 15 2009: from
Chinese villagers dying from chemical factory's illegal pollution
Underfoot, the earth has been poisoned to a depth of 20cm (8in). The water in the wells is undrinkable. The plight of Shuangqiao ... where three people have died and 509 are sick from poisoning by the heavy metals cadmium and indium, produced by a nearby factory, has drawn widespread attention since residents took to the internet to air their grievances. "We wouldn't be here today if the Government had paid attention to us in 2006 when we first told them the factory in our village was spreading pollution," said one villager, who gave his name only as Li, for fear of official retribution. "Now it's the responsibility of the factory and the Government that ignored us to help us." ... Waste water and earth from the processing of the heavy metals have been dumped into a narrow valley at the back of the plant. The stream runs into a river 500m away that feeds into the main Xiang River, which provides drinking water for 20 million people. The factory was supposed to produce the feed additive zinc sulphate. Instead, it illegally processed ore from zinc production to extract cadmium and rare indium, a key material in liquid crystal display screens and solar panels. The price of indium soared from less than $600 (360) a kilogram in 2003 to $1,000 by 2006. China now meets 30 per cent of world demand and at its peak the Xianghe factory produced 300kg of indium a month.
[Read more stories about: toxic water, contamination, heavy metals]

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