Lead poisoning near Huaqiang Battery Factory, China

Description
Parents from Jiaoyang and Chongtou villages said their children had shown symptoms of lead poisoning ever since the opening of the Huaqiang Battery Factory in 2006. Villagers paid for private blood tests, which showed 94 percent of 71 samples sent for testing to have relatively high levels of lead for an adult, while 11.5 percent were over safety limits. In 2009, 287 children under 14 were tested in Longyan. After 121 were found to have high lead levels in their blood, the government closed the plant. The case followed other lead poisoning cases in Hunan where a manganese smelting plant led to 1,300 children falling sick and another smelter in northern Shaanxi province was closed after more than 600 children were found to have lead poisoning. In some cases this has led to a wave of violent clashes between police and angry parents. The ruling Communist party is worried that mass protests will threaten the countrys social stability. Industrial pollution from heavy metals and environmental degradation have become highly sensitive social issues. In 2011 it was reported that many other battery factories had been closed following these scandals and the Ministry of Environment had brought 74 criminal charges against those connected with lead & cadmium poisonings.
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Basic Data
NameLead poisoning near Huaqiang Battery Factory, China
CountryChina
ProvinceFujian province
SiteLongyang
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Other industries
Specific CommoditiesBatteries
Lead
Project Details and Actors
Project Details
In China, the birth defect rate has almost doubled in the past decade.
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Project Area (in hectares)5000
Type of PopulationUnknown
Start Date2009
Company Names or State EnterprisesHuaqiang Battery Plant from China
Relevant government actorsGovernment of Shanghang county, The Ministry of Environmental Protection
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingNeighbours/citizens/communities
Local scientists/professionals
Parents
Forms of MobilizationCommunity-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Other environmental related diseases
Potential: Deaths
OtherLead poisoning
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights
Outcome
Project StatusUnknown
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Strengthening of participation
Application of existing regulations
Closure of the factory. Criminal prosecution for parties responsible for lead contamination across the country.
Development of AlternativesVillagers from the area called on local government officials to close down the factory, to broaden testing to include a wider area, and to give compensation to those affected by the pollution.
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.The factory has been closed, along with many other battery plants and the Ministry of Environmental Protection warned that 'criminal penalties will be imposed upon the heads of the responsible businesses, and local chief officials will also be held accountable for pollution incidents.' The BBC says some 74 people have been detained this year in connection with lead poisonings [1].
Sources and Materials
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ContributorMalena Bengtsson
Last update03/05/2014
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