Sichuan Earthquake Survivors ‘Poisoned by Pollution’
Many victims of the May 2008 earthquake in Sichuan have not yet been able to return home or rebuild, and are now suffering from pollution due to the expansion of a nearby aluminum plant, the Guardian reports:
Villagers near the factory in Wenchuan county – the area worst hit by the disaster – have told the Guardian their health and crops have been damaged by airborne “white flake” pollution that falls and then covers the soil.
Though more than a year has passed since the quake killed 68,000 people and destroyed millions of homes on 12 May 2008, many residents still live in tents.
The local government has put a priority on rebuilding the economy, partly through the more than five-fold expansion of the Aba Aluminium production line owned by Bosai Corporation – one of Sichuan’s biggest exporters. This provides much-needed jobs in the disaster area, but they come at a heavy environmental price, according to nearby residents who complain their harvests have collapsed because of contamination.
“The expansion of the aluminium factory has really affected our lives. I used to grow vegetables and walnuts, but the pollution has ruined the plants and trees,” a local woman told the Guardian by telephone. “The powder from the plant floats in the air, and leaves a coating of white sediment on the ground.”