Following the discovery that over 200 children suffer from lead poisoning from a nearby battery factory, a local environmental official in Anhui has been suspended. From NPR:
Zhao Yiping, the head of the local environmental protection bureau in Huaining County in Anhui province, was suspended from his duties after tests confirmed that lead emissions from Borui Battery Co. Ltd. had polluted the nearby soil, the county government said in a statement.
It said 228 children out of 307 tested were found to have high levels of lead in their blood. Twenty-three of them were hospitalized and were receiving treatment. The battery plant was forced to halt operations while investigations continue, the statement said.
The plant had failed to pass necessary environmental checks and was asked to close in August, but it later resumed production without notifying authorities, the government said.
The factory was across the street from a residential area despite regulations that battery plants must be at least 1,600 feet (500 meters) away.
And Reuters reports that parents are demanding answers and compensation from the government over their children’s sickness:
Authorities in Gaohe in eastern Anhui province have closed two battery plants blamed for the poisoning just a stone’s throw from residences in contravention of planning laws, according to state media.
Some of the children affected are just a few months old.
“Children are precious to us. You tell me what I can do. I don’t have many requests. The government has to stand up and give the children some answers and help,” said 48-year-old Li Xiaoai, grandmother of three-year-old Jiang Shuangchao.