China Shuts Battery Factories Due to Lead Poisoning

Hundreds of Chinese factories producing rechargeable lead batteries have been closed for fear of lead poisoning. From BBC News:

About 74 people have been detained this year after reports that more than 100 people were affected by lead and cadmium poisoning.

Reports from China suggests hundreds of factories have been closed as a result of efforts to tackle poisoning.

The rechargeable lead batteries are used in scooters, cars and some mobile phones.

The detentions and closures are part of moves by regional governments in China to decrease environmental damage and improve working conditions.

Increased demand for electric scooters alongside higher car production has driven up the demand for lead batteries.

Some are reporting that almost all lead-acid battery producing regions in China have been affected. From San Francisco Chronicle:

Plants in Zhejiang, Guangdong, Sichuan and Henan provinces have all suspended production, said Xu Hong, head of the lead- acid battery branch at the China Electrical Equipment Industry Association.

“Regardless of the plants’ conditions, they’ve all been shut down, and there is no timetable now to resume operations,” Xu said by phone.

China is the world’s largest exporter of the batteries, which account for 80 percent of the country’s total lead consumption, according to the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association.

So far, 74 people in China’s Zhejiang province have been arrested in connection with lead poisoning cases which have affected 172 people, including 53 children. From Associated Press:

China has detained 74 people and suspended production at hundreds of battery factories in a widening crackdown on heavy metals pollution after dozens of people were sickened by lead and cadmium poisoning.The government in eastern China’s Zhejiang province said Monday that some of the people were detained in connection with pollution that sickened 172 people, including 53 children, near a battery factory in the city of Taizhou. Water and power to 652 factories was cut, it said in a statement on its website.

Local authorities are belatedly moving to curb pollution after Beijing announced plans for tighter oversight of the industry in response to reports of widespread contamination from heavy metals.

The manager of Taizhou Suqi Storage Battery Co. was arrested in late March and three government officials were suspended for neglecting to properly supervise the factory after tests found many living near the facility had high levels of lead in their blood.

The statement Monday said that investigation resulted in 74 people being detained in 56 cases that were handed to police for possible prosecution.

May 30, 2011 1:57 PM
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Categories: Environment, Law, Society