Nation’s Largest Allicin Producer Sickens Residents, Plays Cat-and-mouse with Watchdog

A typical polluter’s story and cat-and-mouse game with environmental watchdogs. Translated by CDT from Legal Daily via sina.com:

Yu Ganjun, 46, has been working at the garlic oil department of a factory near home since 2002. In 2005, he was diagnosed with neural mutation due to poisoning. Now his hands “are numb” and he cannot even take a shower by himself. For years, his wife has another job, bathing him.

Another villager Chen Shunhe was digging a well the other day and suddenly started vomiting. Folks pulled him back home and saved his life. People suspect it was because of the contaminated water and soil near the Xiang River.

They are not alone. Over recent years, farmers at Shutangshan Village have fallen sick from illnesses such as lung , liver , stoned liver, gastrorrhagia, liver ascites, to name a few. Some witnesses described to the reporter how some sludge thrown out of the factory made its way with a thunderstorm rainfall into the river and killed weeds, grass and plants it ran through along the way.

The factory, by the name of Jingtian, is said to be China’s largest producer of allicin, a liquid compound that is mainly used for pig feed. Composed of disulfide and trisulfide, the chemical has ultra strong smell and leaves a vomit-like sting on the nose.

The village used to be a tree-hugged natural haven for a thousand local residents. In 2001, a machinery plant went bankrupt and left several hundred workers unemployed. The local county government, Wangcheng, soon found a savior, Jingtian, which had already decided to set up shop elsewhere and paid 100,000 deposit there. But Wangcheng was desperate for business, so much so that officials paid Jingtian the deposit and proposed the firm to start production right away without a need to get environmental permissions. That is, by some accounts, what they call “first get on the bus and then buy a ticket.”

As things turned out, Jingtian didn’t bother to file environmental paperwork for a few years. And even when local authorities “helped” it with all the paperwork, it kept dumping foul chemicals without a second thought. Villagers filed complaints, all the way to SEPA, now the Ministry of Environmental Protection. “Directives” were inked all the way down to the local branch of the environmental watchdog, but things were never cleaned up. The county environmental branch fined the firm a couple of times, once for 5,000 yuan in 2004 and later 19,000 yuan in 2006. As villagers described it, the polluter just played a game of cat-and-mouse, suspending production when there were inspections, and keeping business as usual when nobody showed up to check.

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