A lead smelting plant has been confirmed as the source of lead
poisoning that affected nearly 900 villagers in Gansu Province.
A provincial environmental official also said the plant had
continued to discharge pollutants even after it had been told to
Meanwhile, the local government says it is taking measures to
help improve the polluted environment.
Officials in Huixian County sent medicine over the weekend to
two villages where farmers have been suffering from lead
They have also discussed with farmers the issue of compensation,
Zhang Jiejing, an official with the county government, told
China Daily on Monday.
"We also removed eight smelting facilities from the factory
causing the pollution," the official said.
A total of 877 farmers in two villages near the factory were
confirmed, after medical tests, as having excessive lead in their
Some 334 children under the age of 14 were poisoned, according
to Gansu Provincial Health Department.
Since August, the farmers, from the villages of Xinsi and Moba
in Shuiyang Township, have been for blood tests to Xijing Hospital
in Xi'an, capital of Gansu's eastern neighbor Shaanxi Province.
This mass poisoning and pollution case drew the attention of the
State Environmental Protection Administration, which sent a group
On Saturday, after just one day of investigation, it found that
the Huixian Hongyu Nonferrous Smelting company Ltd, a private
smelting plant located near the two villages, was the source of the
pollution, according to Ren Longjiang, member of the group.
"It must be relocated to a place far from residential areas and
water sources," the expert said.
Yang Hua, an official with Gansu Provincial Environmental
Protection Department, told China Daily that the plant had
been ordered to close by the local government on August 22.
However, local farmers claimed the plant had been in operation
for some 10 years and that they had reported the pollution on many
"They paid no attention," said Zhou Yongjie, a farmer living in
the Xinsi, whose son is suffering from lead poisoning.
And according to Yang Hua, the local environmental protection
official, the plant had been required to stop discharging polluted
material, but had carried on doing so in secret.
(China Daily September 12, 2006)