It’s Our Home, But We Can’t Live There

    A villager looks at the remains of his house after it was pulled down. He said: The factory disposes of toxic waste where farmers used to grow crops in green fields. (Image: Beijing News)A factory wastewater treatment pool in the local village.The water is reddish-brown and stinks. (Image: Beijing News)A normal orange compared with the mutant ones that grow locally. (Image: Beijing News)

    Changyuan in Taoyuan County, Hunan Province, has become unlivable due to metal pollution.

    The area surrounding the Yuanjiang River there used to be a beautiful.  But in 2001, an industrial complex was set up on 2,450 acres of land for Changyuan Aluminum Co. Ltd.

    Soon, its highly toxic production line came into operation, and irreparably damaged the water and soil, the crops, the residents…

    Many locals were forced to leave their homes and became environmental immigrants.

    Villagers still living downstream of the factory have strange pains, and more than 10 people there have died from cancer.

    The release of fluoride in aluminum electrolytes is 20 times more damaging to human health than sulfur dioxide. Its high solubility reduces the size of crop harvests.

    A 63-year-old villager called Quan Jinsheng told Beijing News: “The trifoliate oranges here have changed. They used to look like an orange, but now they have little tumors all over their skin.”

    He recalled harvest time in the days before the aluminum smelter fired up, when the orange tree branches were bent down with the weight of fruit. Now only one-third of them are still alive due to contamination the.

    Tangerine and camellia oil were also important local items. Every family used to harvest 4,000-5,000 catties of tangerines every year.

    Since the aluminum factory started up, the number of tangerines have dropped drastically, the camellias rarely fruit, and cotton turns grey. Locals have suffered a huge financial loss.

    According to state media Xinhua, environmental officials will investigate the contamination scandal, and local authorities are helping to rehome the people there.

    Research by Cecilia and Mona

     

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