Shutangshan Village Chemical Factory Pollution in Hunan Province, China

The polluter in Shutangshan village eventually moved away, but compensation for villagers’ health and economic loss, and the responsibility for recovering the environment, were left in question.

Shutangshan, a village surrounded by green hills and clear water, is located 20 kilometres north of Changsha City in Hunan Province. It was once the study place of Ouyang Xun, a famous Tang Dynasty calligrapher (1). The beautiful Xiang River runs through the village. Its convenient location and scenery once made it one of the most habitable villages in China. Unfortunately, an over decade-long nightmare of pollution started by the establishment of a profitable allicin producer in the village drove away those who were capable of moving and left the village heading downhill. (2) Apart from economic loss, including deaths of cows, bees, fish, shrimps and bamboo caused by toxication, more and more villagers suffered or died of various types of cancer, including esophageal cancer, cerebral cancer, oophoroma, liver cancer, stomach cancer, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer and lung cancer. (3) The accused polluter is Hunan Jingtian Science and Technology Company (湖南晶天科技实业有限公司)(hereafter Jingtian), known as China’s largest allicin producer. Allicin, a liquid chemical commonly used as an additive in pig feed, is mainly composed of disulphide and trisulphide. A trace of allicin is enough to produce a foul smell that will travel far. In addition, its production needs chloropropene, which upon leakage may cause great harm to human health and the environment. (4)
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Basic Data
NameShutangshan Village Chemical Factory Pollution in Hunan Province, China
SiteShutangshan Villlage, Wangcheng County
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Chemical industries
Specific CommoditiesChemical products
Allicin, a liquid chemical commonly used as an additive in pig feed, mainly composed of disulphide and trisulphide
Project Details and Actors
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date01/01/2001
End Date30/04/2014
Company Names or State EnterprisesHunan Jingtian Science and Technology Company (湖南晶天科技实业有限公司) from China
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersCenter for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims
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 MobilizingFarmers
Informal workers
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationInvolvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (failure for environmental justice)
Application of existing regulations
Withdrawal of company/investment
The industrial plant was moved to another place.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The villagers did triumph in that they eventually made Jingtian move from their village and stopped the pollution from further developing. However, the company’s move was also regarded by villagers as a way of evading responsibility. Villagers received little compensation from Jingtian for their harmed health and economic loss despite of petitions, riots and professionally aided lawsuits. After the factory moved away, the land of its original location was simply covered with fresh soil transferred from a nearby hill and finished with cement on top. Once the fresh top soil was removed, a strong smell would immediately reveal itself and could cause nausea and stomach pain within minutes. The polluter had made money and escaped, but who should shoulder the responsibility for treating the polluted environment? (2)
Sources and Materials

1. 书堂山简介
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3. 湖南晶天科技污染疑致“怪病” 村民因上访被刑拘
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6. 千方百计化矛盾 环保卫士终息访
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2. 湘江畔的大蒜污染事件 長沙望城採樣筆記
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4. 全国最大大蒜素生产企业污染湘江7年
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5. China’s Pollution Revolution
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湖南晶天污染村民怨声载道 中心派员赶赴现场调查
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我中心检举环评报告失实 环保部通报批评环评机构
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The shadow over rural China
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Nation’s Largest Allicin Producer Sickens Residents, Plays Cat-and-mouse with Watchdog
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Liu Lican (2013) qiang guo bing cun (強國病村), HK: Mingpao

Wilson, S. (2015) Tigers without teeth: The Pursuit of Justice in Contemporary China, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Other Documents

Jingtian Factory
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Black smoke from the factory's chimney
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Factory's waste water discharge pipe into the Xiang River
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CHEN Lifang
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Meta Information
ContributorChina environment and welfare research group, university of Oxford
Last update23/11/2015