Chemical plants accused of polluting

Updated: 2011-11-16 15:26


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JINAN - Two chemical companies in East China's Shandong province have been accused of polluting and being responsible for the deaths of more than 30 nearby residents.

Shandong Keyuan Chemical Industry Co Ltd and Tengfei Chemical Industry Co Ltd were found to have dumped tonnes of sewage at several villages in the township of Tushan, once renowned for its ecological environment.

Residents in the villages have long complained about smelly air and water pollution. "The pungent smell is so strong that we are hardly able to fall asleep sometimes," said Jiao Qing'an from the village of Haicang.

Over the past three years, more than 30 villagers have died of cancer, said Jiao, who suspects that the illnesses were caused by air pollution from the two chemical plants.

"Cancer rates in these villages are several times higher than the national average, and our hospital has been receiving an increasing number of cancer patients from Tushan," said a doctor at Yantai People's Hospital, who declined to be named.

Keyuan Chemical is one of China's leading pesticide producers. While the company claims to have prioritized environmental protection, it is now the largest source of pollution for the sea area south of Laizhou Bay, together with Tengfei Chemical, according to the Yantai Fisheries Association.

Both companies have not acquired certificates for pesticides production, according to the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.

The pollution accusation was however refuted by Keyuan.

"Those who blame my company for their illness are irresponsible," Keyuan's board chairman Qu Jiangsheng told Economic Information Daily, a newspaper released by Xinhua.

"I'm still healthy after working in the industry for more than 30 years," Qu said, noting that it is common for chemical plants to emit waste water and gas.

Xu Kaijun, deputy secretary of Tushan's Communist Party committee, admitted there had been rising numbers of locals diagnosed with cancer over recent years.

To placate the villagers' complaints, the town government ordered the two chemical companies to pay each villager 700 yuan ($110) annually in compensation.

Local environmental protection authorities said Keyuan Chemical has been recycling waste water and processing exhaust gas as required, and they have never received any complaint by the villagers.