Solar Energy Firms Leave Waste Behind in China

The push worldwide for solar panel production has resulted in a boom in solar energy companies in China. But the solar energy companies are facing one major problem: where do they dump the toxic waste that is the by-product of photovoltaic panel production? The Washington Post reports on a company dumps their waste it in the fields surrounding a rural village in China.

The first time Li Gengxuan saw the dump trucks from the nearby factory pull into his village, he couldn’t believe what happened. Stopping between the cornfields and the primary school playground, the workers dumped buckets of bubbling white liquid onto the ground. Then they turned around and drove right back through the gates of their compound without a word.

This ritual has been going on almost every day for nine months, Li and other villagers said.

In China, a country buckling with the breakneck pace of its industrial growth, such stories of environmental pollution are not uncommon. But the Luoyang Zhonggui High-Technology Co., here in the central plains of Henan Province near the Yellow River, stands out for one reason: It’s a green energy company, producing polysilicon destined for solar energy panels sold around the world. But the byproduct of polysilicon production — silicon tetrachloride — is a highly toxic substance that poses environmental hazards.

Villagers have pointed to the toxic waste from solar panel companies for causing decreased soil productivity and low crop yield last year, but Chinese officials have not followed up with soil testing. The Washington Post requested the soil be tested by an independent accredited laboratory; click here for results of the soil test printed in the article.