Sep 01, 2011 02:20 PM

The Poisoning of the Nanpan River Basin

In Sanbao Town, the water isn't safe to drink anymore. After a light rain on June 11, Lu Jicai took his sheep into the mountains, located by the Nanpan River Basin. The sheep drank from a pond and soon began bleating. That night, Lu's wife made an inventory. Of the 51 sheep on the mountain that day, 38 had died and 13 were on the verge of death. A veterinarian at the local Animal Husbandry Station determined that the sheep had been poisoned.

After discovering that the chromium slag had been dumped in Sanbao, Qujing environmental authorities discovered more chromium slag heaps in nearby towns and villages, a total of more than 5,000 tons. The investigation found that the toxic waste had been dumped on the banks of the river by two men working for an unlicensed waste disposal company that were contracted by a chemical manufacturer to transport and process the waste.

(Toxic chemicals oozing out of the soil where chromium slags
used to be dumped in Yunnan Qujing City, August 10/IC)

An investigation by the local environmental protection bureau found that the sheep had been poisoned with hexavalent chromium. Hexavalent chromium is easily absorbed by the body, causing vomiting, abdominal pain, dermatitis and eczema. Short-term and long-term contact or inhalation poses a cancer risk. At the pond where the sheep drank, investigators found numerous pieces of black chromium slag. In the rain, the highly toxic elements in the slag had washed into the pond.

More chromium slag was discovered in the mountains of Zhangjiaying Village in the following month.

Pollution Out of Control

On August 13, a notice from the Qujing government stated that the illegally dumped chromium slag had come from Yunnan Luliang Chemical Industry. The company had signed a chromium slag transport agreement with Guizhou Xingyi Sanli Fuel. To save on transportation costs, two transport workers from the company, Wu Xinghuai and Liu Xingshui, dumped more than 140 trucks worth of highly toxic chromium slag in the mountains near Qujing, a total of 5,222 tons.

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