Residents and monks of Lhamo Mountain affected by Ganhetan Industrial District Park pollution, Tibet

The Ganhetan Industrial District, near the Kumbum Monastery, pollutes the land and the water by the processing of lead, putting in danger the children's life. The residents wrote a letter appeal for action to be taken by governmental authorities.


Description
The Kumbum Monastery (Ta'er Monastery in chinese) is a historic and very important site for Tibetan Buddhism, situated in in the Qinghai province of China (Amdo in tibetan). The Monastery is collocated on the holy Lhamo Mountain and near the river Mendan Gorge. In the last years beginning from 2011, the Ganhetan Industrial District Park in Huangzhong (Tibetan: Rushar) wal constructed in the vicinity of Monastery, and it lured many companies to accomplish mining around the territory, like the Western Regions Mining and Smelting Works, the Qinghai Salt Lake Chemical Engineering Co. Ltd., the Western Steel Mining Co. Ltd., and the Qinghai Shunxiang Mining Industries Co. Ltd. Pollution and senseless extractive business practices caused serious damage to the land, to the shapes of the mountains and to the water courses, polluting water sources, and destroying the plant cover. The High Peaks Pure Earth [1] (a web site provides insightful commentary on Tibet related news and issues) had translated part of an appeal letter, reported by an unknown tibetan blogger, with online name Zongkawang, and published on a TibetCul blog on July 13, 2011. In the letter appeal are reported many important information. For example that the water of Mendan Gorge is daily used by over ten thousand people in the monastic community and by over ten adjacent villages. The area suffers excavating ore,destruction of landscape and high polluting by toxic gases and dust. This damages the tourism industry in Qinghai. [1] Citiziens have impeded the mining many times to defend their sacred mountain.The authorities didn't response to a report about the situation presented by the monastery management committee. During the months of May to July 2011, eight villages had serious pollution in their water pipes: the water got covered in mud and smelt disgusting. Local people were nauseated and their bodies became limp and they were confused and some that drank the water were taken to the clinic. Consecuently on June 22, 2011, proponents of the monks took the polluted water to Rushar County authorities and they insisted on an immediate stop to mining at holy Lhamo Mountain and Mendan Gorge. Therefore the Rushar County commanded the County environmental protection office, to test samples of the water and suggested to don't drink the water until the end of the month, when they would apprise the monks about the results. [1] An article of the International Campaign for Tibet [2] reports that the mentioned unknown blogger, has written in detail about the impact of lead poisoning of the water caused by Industrial District. He referred to more than 100 children falling ill in 2006 due to the lead poisoning, and in a separate blog, results of tests showing that almost 1000 children and youths had excessive levels of lead in their blood. A 2006 report, which appears in Chinese but not in English online, states: “The culprits causing excessive lead levels in the students’ blood are the several lead smelting enterprises concentrated in the area. Villagers told this journalist that almost 200 children from the village had been to the hospital for examinations, and the results showed that they all had excessive levels of lead in their blood – the highest was 502 micrograms per liter”[2]. In a posting dated July 17, 2011, he said that the Xining authorities had organized relevant departments to test 919 children around the Ganhetan Industrial District, and the results showed that “almost 1000 children and youths had excessive levels of lead in their blood”. Furthermore he reported that a journalist came to area and investigated several villages for lead poisoning, but this research has not been published in the state media. On July 23, 2011, the blogger wrote: “In recent years the environment at Kumbum Monastery has become awful. The local government and businesses have colluded to build a great many polluting enterprises five kilometers from Kumbum Monastery, and so every time the wind blows or it rains, smoke, dust and foul-smelling air settles down on the roofs and courtyards, and the temples’ golden tiles and wall murals are already corroding.” [2] He also wrote that more than 30,000 farmers had been moved off their land in the area, in order to facilitate the expansion of Ganhetan Industrial District, and in their place more enterprises are to be built that had been moved from the Chinese interior because of serious pollution. Many monks from Kumbum have also been affected, as their families’ land has been taken. [2]. The risks of publishing such a petition are high as there has been “a pattern of silencing local people who raise concerns about issues such as mining and pollution”[3]. In fact a Human Rights Watch report cited by ICT, with the title “My Children have been poisoned. A public Healt Crisis in Four Chinese Provinces” [6], states that local officials in China have sometimes reacted to mass poisonings by limiting lead testing, withholding and possibly manipulating test results, denying proper treatment to children and adults, and trying to silence parents and activists[3]. Such actions violate Chinese law and condemn hundreds of thousands of children to permanent mental and physical disabilities. Joe Amon, health and human rights director at Human Rights Watch said: “Children with dangerously high levels of lead in their blood are being refused treatment and returned home to contaminated houses in polluted villages”; “Parents, journalists, and community activists who dare to speak out about lead are detained, harassed, and ultimately silenced” [5]. Whenever Beijing removes nomads in the name of “environmental protection,” mining companies inevitably move in and strip mine the area soon thereafter. It’s pretty clear what drives Beijing’s agenda, and it isn’t protecting the environment or preventing ethnic unrest[4].
Basic Data
Name Residents and monks of Lhamo Mountain affected by Ganhetan Industrial District Park pollution, Tibet
CountryChina
ProvinceQinghai province, ( Amdo in tibetan)
SiteTa'er Monastery, Kumbum Champa Ling, 金堂巷 Huangzhong, Lhamo Mountain
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Mineral processing
Specific CommoditiesLead
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsIn the last years beginning from 2011, the Ganhetan Industrial Park has been constructed in the vicinity of Kumbum Monastery, attracting the Western Regions Mining and Smelting Works, the Qinghai Salt Lake Chemical Engineering Co. Ltd., the Western Steel Mining Co. Ltd., and the Qingdao Shunxiang Industrial CO. Ltd. to carry out large scale mining and extraction around Kumbum Monastery’s holy Lhamo Mountain and Mendan Gorge [1].
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected PopulationTen thousand people in Kumbum Monastery’s monastic community and over ten neighbouring villages [1]
Start Date22/06/2011
Company Names or State EnterprisesQinghai Salt Lake Chemical Engineering Company Ltd. from China
Western Steel Mining Co. Ltd from China
Qingdao Shunxiang Industrial CO., Ltd. from China
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersInternational Campaign for Tibet:

http://www.savetibet.org/, [email protected];

High Peaks Pure Earth

Tibet: Environment and Development:

http://tibet-edd.blogspot.com.es/;

Tibet Watch: http://www.tibetwatch.org/;

UNREPRESENTED NATIONS AND PEOPLES ORGANIZATION:

http://unpo.org/
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 MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Religious groups
Buddhist monks
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Official complaint letters and petitions
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
OtherThe situation became more serious, especially during the months of May to July 2011, when eight villages had serious contamination in their water pipes with the water becoming muddy and foul smelling [1].

A video uploaded to a Chinese video sharing, shows turbid and discolored water being pumped out of a spigot by a monk at Kumbum monastery [5];

On July 23 2011, a blogger wrote: “In recent years the environment at Kumbum Monastery has become awful. The local government and businesses have colluded to build a great many polluting enterprises five kilometers from Kumbum Monastery, and so every time the wind blows or it rains, smoke, dust and foul-smelling air settles down on the roofs and courtyards, and the temples’ golden tiles and wall murals are already corroding”[1].
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Other Health impacts
Potential: Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
OtherMonks and local people became nauseous, their bodies became listless and they felt dazed and some even had to be hospitalised from drinking the water [1];

Lead is toxic to many organs and tissues including the heart, bones, intestines, kidneys, and reproductive and nervous systems. It interferes with the development of the nervous system and is therefore particularly toxic to children. Symptoms include abdominal pain, headache, anemia, irritability, and in severe cases seizures, coma, and death. No safe threshold for lead exposure has been discovered, and there is no known amount of lead that is too small to cause the body harm [2];

Pollution from lead is highly toxic and can interrupt the body’s neurological, biological, and cognitive functions. Children are particularly susceptible, and high levels of lead exposure can cause reduced IQ and attention span, reading and learning disabilities, behavioral problems, hearing loss, and disruption in the development of visual and motor functioning. High levels of lead can cause anemia, brain, liver, kidney, nerve, and stomach damage, as well as comas, convulsions, and even death [6]
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Violations of human rights, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Other[6]Human rights watch;

[2]International Campaign for Tibet
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCriminalization of activists
Migration/displacement
Repression
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The awareness of the citizens and monks and their capacity to organize to defend their rights, writing reports and letter appeals, it's a good outcome for the environmental justice and for the visibility to international level. But of course in front of casualness and possible corruption of the authorities, it is difficult to get some solution and the lack of environmental safety carry on.
Sources and Materials
References

[5]Human right watch, China: Children Poisoned by Lead and Denied Treatment, JUNE 15, 2011
[click to view]

Copper and gold mining in Tibet, Copper and gold mining in Tibet, October 11 2011 by rukor-admin
[click to view]

Britain based Tibet Watch, “Environmental Protest on the Tibetan plateau”, January 2015
[click to view]

Green Tibet, Annual Newsletter 2011, Environment and Development Desk
[click to view]

[6]Human rights watch, “My Children Have Been Poisoned”. A Public Health Crisis in Four Chinese Provinces, JUNE 15, 2011
[click to view]

Links

[1]High peaks pure earth, Contamination of Drinking Water caused by Mining: An appeal letter from Kumbum Monastery, July 29, 2011
[click to view]

[3] Radio Free Asia, Monastery, Villages Hit by Pollution, 2011-08-01
[click to view]

[4] The China hotline, “Contamination of Drinking Water Caused by Mining”, July 30, 2011
[click to view]

International Campaign for Tibet, Bold online appeals address persistent lead poisoning in Qinghai water supply, Save Tibet, July 29, 2011
[click to view]

Asianews.it, China pollutes Tibetan monastery, August 2, 2011
[click to view]

Media Links

“An Urgent Appeal Letter from All Monks and Lay People. In and Around Kumbum Monastery”, Screenshot of the Appeal Letter as it Appeared on a TibetCul Blog
[click to view]

[5]56.com, 首页> 热点> MVI_0007
[click to view]

Other Documents

http://subjects.kmaps.virginia.edu/features/104
[click to view]

Rick Wang19970516 Photo - Feb 2012 Ta‘er Temple
[click to view]

http://www.rfa.org/english/news/tibet/pollute-08012011121357.html
[click to view]

[5]Human right watch, China: Children Poisoned by Lead and Denied Treatment, JUNE 15, 2011 https://www.hrw.org/news/2011/06/15/china-children-poisoned-lead-and-denied-treatment At least 615 of the 731 children living in two villages near this lead smelter in China’s Shaanxi province showed excessive amounts of lead in their blood according to 2009 medical tests.
© 2009 Associated Press
[click to view]

https://www.savetibet.org/bold-online-appeals-address-persistent-lead-poisoning-in-qinghai-water-supply/ Tour group visiting Kumbum. The largest Gelugpa monastery outside the TAR, Kumbum is a major Tibetan Buddhist site affected by Chinese tourism. - See more at: https://www.savetibet.org/bold-online-appeals-address-persistent-lead-poisoning-in-qinghai-water-supply/#sthash.FCFsJevi.dpuf
[click to view]

[2]International Campaign for Tibet, Bold online appeals address persistent lead poisoning in Qinghai water supply International Campaign for Tibet, July, 29 2011
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorMyriam Bartolucci, EJAtlas internship researcher, [email protected]
Last update13/06/2016
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