Heilongjiang antibiotics factory kicks up stink

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Global Times, June 7, 2011
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The mainland's largest antibiotics producer, based in Northeast China, has ignored repeated complaints by local residents concerning nauseating smells emanating from its factory, according to media reports.

According to a China Central Television report on Sunday, residents living near the Harbin Pharmaceutical Group in Heilongjiang Province, have to wear masks to avoid the noxious gases, with some not daring to open their windows.

"I have lived here for about three years, inhaling gas smellier than a toilet every day," He Lijie, a graduate student at Harbin Medical University, located near the factory, told the Global Times.

Built in 1958 to the southwest of the city, the factory gives out smells that travel long distances, residents complained.

One of the main reasons for this funk is the emissions during the fermentation stage of penicillin production.

The report also cited an investigation two years ago by the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Heilongjiang Provincial Committee, which shows that the level of hydrogen sulphide gas discharged by the factory was 1,150 times over the legal limit.

A medical expert, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Heilongjiang Daily that inhaling this gas for protracted periods of time could cause headaches, dizziness, vomiting, eye irritations and respiratory troubles.

In 2009, residents took their concerns to local environmental protection agencies but to no avail, according to People's Daily.

Early September, the Harbin Environmental Protection Bureau announced it would resolve the issue before year's end by relocating some of the factory's facilities.

An insider told People's Daily that the cost of the move would range between 8 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion) to 10 billion yuan. Both local government and the company are hesitant to foot the bill, meaning that plans to move the factory were finalized.

Some citizens scoffed at this excuse, pointing to the company's 4 billion yuan annual profits.

"What they lack is not money but resolution," one of the residents quipped to People's Daily.

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