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Polluter closed down after 27 cancer deaths
www.chinaview.cn 2005-10-21 10:57:14

    BEIJING, Oct. 21 -- A papermaking factory was suspended after causing pollution that a Heilongjiang Province village blamed for a high cancer rate among locals in recent years.

    A total of 27 people died of cancer in Mingyue Village where the factory is located, the provincial Life Daily reported. Most lost their battle to stomach or esophagus cancer at ages between 30 and 50.

    The village has more than 1,500 residents made up of about 400 families.

    The incidence rate for the northeastern province was 199.8 per 100,000 people in 1993-97, the newspaper said, citing the latest report of the national tumor prevention and treatment authority.

    In sharp contrast, the figure for the village in Tailai County worked out to 1,333 cases per 100,000 people, according to the report.

    The papermaking factory is about 4 kilometers southeast of downtown Tailai. The county government ordered the factory to shut in late September, months after environmental officials took samples of drinking water in the village.

    The evaluation reportedly has been kept secret from the villagers. Officials at the county Environmental Protection Bureau would only tell the locals that "it's high time that the village's water problem was solved," according to the newspaper.

    Li Guotian, a bureau deputy director, reportedly said the government hesitated in suspending the factory which was the county's major taxpayer.

    He said the sewage the factory discharged into a 200-hectare lake in the village exceeded the national standard.
He refused the newspaper's request to check the report, saying it was only for internal reference.

    The factory was designed to turn out 6,000 tons of paper products annually, the report said, citing Wang Guojun, the factory general manager. The equipment was bought in the 1980s when it started operation, Wang said.

    Before the factory opened in 1983, the lake was clear and alive with fish, villagers said.

    The factory has since turned the lake into a "pit of soy sauce." No one has tended to the black untreated waste water the factory discharged into the lake where residents live as close as 50 meters away.

    They have to wait at least two days until residue in the water they draw from wells settles. The water also tastes bad.
Li Shuqing, 68, told the newspaper his family has dug three wells in his life.

    The first they dug before the factory opened was about 10 meters deep and the water was clean.

    In 1996, he had to dig 23 meters deep, but it was not satisfactory. This year, he has had a 46-meter well created. But the water is still turbid.

    (Source: Shanghai Daily news)

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