Hengjiang Village is nestled in the lush mountains of China's Hunan province, just a few kilometers from the bustling city of Wugang. It is a simple place, where mopeds carrying families of four zoom up and down dirt roads, and villagers drink water from local wells. Their simple, unassuming way of life was shattered when children started getting sick. A few cases turned into hundreds and parents started to worry. 
In July 2009, some children from several villages including Hengjiang in Wenping Town, Wugang City were found excessive and unhealthy levels of lead in their blood in the medical examinations. Parents and residents around the Wugang Manganese Smelting Plant in Wenping Town, Hunan, voiced fear and anger about the threat to children who have studied at schools hundreds of meters from the site.  They began to suspect the smelter as the cause of a rash of illnesses among their children. One man told the China Daily newspaper that his 10-month-old daughter became sick and started losing her hair.  The news caused fear among other villagers. Parents took their children to check and found them with unhealthy levels of blood lead.
The pollution triggered a mass incident when the local Government ignored the complaints of residents. Angered villagers from Wenping and nearby towns started to block the road from July 30, 2009 in order to attract the attention of the government.  On August 8, 2009, approximately 1,000 residents in Wugang city blocked a street, overturned a car, and clashed with 200 officials and police officers during their protest against the Wugang Manganese Smelting Plant.  Local city officials ordered the immediate closure of the plant on August 13, after the large-scale protests of August 8 had taken place.  The plant's general manager, Liu Zhongwu, ran away after the police detained two executives of the plant on suspicion of "causing severe environmental pollution". 
The Wugang Manganese Smelting Plant opened in May 2008 without the approval of the local environmental protection bureau (no EIA) within 500m of a primary school, a middle school and a kindergarten. Although the factory had only been operating for a year, by August 18, 2009, of the 1958 children receiving blood tests, 1354 or 70% of the total, had been found with an elevated BLL. According to the Center for Occupational Disease Prevention and Treatment, Hunan Province, thirty-eight of the children had an elevated BLL (100–199ug/L), twenty-eight were lightly poisoned (200–249ug/L), seventeen moderately poisoned (250–449ug/L), and none severely poisoned. The moderately poisoned children were sent to a hospital in the city of Changsha .
After running away for two weeks, the general manager of Wugang Manganese Smelting Plant turned himself in on August 27, 2009. After the incident, eight factories in Wenping Town and Simachong Town, including the plant in Hengjiang Village, have been shut down, including coal, manganese and iron smelting plants. "What they did is totally wrong," Wugang government spokesman Lei Zanning told CNN. "The factory and the boss have violated the production safety standards. This is the result of illegal production and construction." Local people suspected that the plant could unlikely start to operate without support from the local government.  Children with the most serious cases of lead poisoning in Hengjiang Village and surrounding areas were treated at local clinics and larger hospitals in nearby Changsha. Parents said hospital officials asked them to sign forms agreeing not to talk to journalists. 
Many poor districts ignore environmental regulations to attract investment, and Hunan is notorious for its heavy metal industry. The Wugang city government said it had demanded an overhaul of more than 100 plants, including seven other smelters. But the problem is likely to be nationwide because authorities are not obliged to conduct expensive tests for heavy metals, which tend to accumulate over time rather than be emitted in noticeable bursts. 
The police released 15 people who were involved in the protest after a reprimand. While some news agencies reported that these people had been detained , according to an unnamed officer in charge of Wugang Municipal Security Department, "No compulsory measures were used in the whole process" .