Cancer Village Xiping and Pingnan County Chromium Pollution Case in Fujian, China

Local villagers of Xiping collected water samples and together with a local doctor approached state authorities. They finally won a legal case which earmarked the history of environmental controversies in China


Located in the northeast of Fujian Province, Pingnan County is the only natural protection area of Mandarin ducks and rhesus macaques worldwide. Despite of a surrounding of green bamboos and clear streams, the county suffered great poverty due to its isolation and backward economy(1).

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Basic Data
NameCancer Village Xiping and Pingnan County Chromium Pollution Case in Fujian, China
ProvinceFujian Province
SitePingnan 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 CommoditiesPotassium chlorate
Chemical products
Project Details and Actors
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date15/01/1995
End Date01/12/2008
Company Names or State EnterprisesRongping Joint Chemical Plant from China
Relevant government actorsNingde Municipality Intermediate People's Court

Fujian Provincial High People’s Court

Local Environmental Protection Bureau

State Environmental Protection Administration
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersCentre for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims (CLAPV)

China Central Television (CCTV)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local scientists/professionals
A local doctor, journalists
Forms of MobilizationCommunity-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Health ImpactsVisible: Deaths, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusUnknown
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.The Pingnan case is considered as a success. The villagers’ unification around the head representative Zhang Changjian, dubbed the lawsuit’s “emotional leader” by the press, largely contributed to the triumph. Media attention also worked to the plaintiff’s favour. They claimed central media as their best allies, as EPB sent out an inspection team on the day that the News Probe programme went on air.(4)

Despite of the difficulty of proving the link between air pollution and damage to health and crops, the plaintiffs adopted legal means to make the polluter improve its dated production system. There are signs of revegetation, but depending on the plant’s long-term performance, it is still too early to draw any conclusion.(1)
Sources and Materials

2. Wang, Alex (2006-7) The Role of Law in Environmental Protection in China: Recent Developments. Vermont Journal of Environmental Law, Vol 8, 195-223.
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4. Stern, R. E. (2011). From dispute to decision: Suing polluters in China. The China Quarterly, 206, 294-312.
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Environmental protection in China: the role of law

Author: Alex Wang, Director, China Environmental Law Project, Natural Resources Defense Council, in China Dialogue, Published on: 5 February 2007
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5. 【近景中国】王灿发为环境抗争
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1. 屏南县千余村民环保讼案始末
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3. “及时雨”王灿发
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The Wall Street Journal, In Booming China, A Doctor Battles A Polluting Factory

Fouled Waters Lead to Flood Of Protests Nationwide; Officials' Mixed Messages

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River of Tears

In Booming China, A Doctor Battles A Polluting Factory

Fouled Waters Lead to Flood Of Protests Nationwide;

Officials' Mixed Messages

Inspired by Erin Brockovich

July 19, 2006 By Shai Oster and Mei Fong
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Media Links

改革開放三十年 - 中國新面貌: 還我青山綠水

China’s New Faces: Give Me Back The Natural Scenery
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Other Documents

Mr. Zhang Changjian
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Xiping river Xiping river view at Xiping village
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Meta Information
ContributorEJOLT team at School of Geography and China Centre, University of Oxford
Last update08/11/2018