A villager stands close to the river which has been polluted by sewage water discharged from a chemical factoy in Dongtan Village. [File photo/Xinhua]
Villagers from a small town in Hubei Province claimed pollution from a chemical industrial park built nearby has led to more than 60 cancer deaths in the area in recent years, Xinhua news agency reported.
Most of the cancer deaths in Zekou Town were people under 50 years old and occurred as more than 20 chemical factories were built in the villages of Dongtan, Zhoutan, Sunguai and Qingnian. Xinhua said.
Villagers said the factories had increased air, water and noise pollution, which the director of a local environmental protection bureau admitted.
The chemical plants made it difficult to farm and cultivate the area, the report said.
In recent years, 1,677 trees and 1,500 ducks died, 1,100,550 square meters of cotton and 66,700 square meters of vegetables were damaged, the report said.
Villagers have asked the chemical factories and the government for 1.5 million yuan (US$240,587) in compensation, but have yet to receive any redress.
Some villagers moved or asked their children to live with relatives in other places due to health fears.
Last year, town representatives went to Beijing to report the situation. The Qingnian government promised to relocate the villagers as soon as possible.
A year passed and nothing was heard about relocation while the pollution became worse in the villages.
Zhang Xinquan, director of the environmental protection bureau of Qingnian, said the "pollution has created many problems for the villagers."