Villagers in China live in shadow of chemical plant

Though China has been trying to tackle pollution, small villages like Nansitou and East Luzhuang in Hebei Province often get left behind.

These villages are located on the outskirts of Handan, China’s smoggiest city, and 250 miles (400 kilometres) from Beijing.  

The villagers here live in the shadows of the Guantou chemical park. They said crops have failed and people have gotten sick since the park opened in 2008.

A chemical stench fills the air here, especially at night.

Lung cancer mortality rates in Hebei Province rose 189 percent in the periods from 1973-75 to 2010-2011, according to a 2016 study by the Hebei Medical University.

The number of people getting strokes has also increased, according to locals.

One villager, Geng Lianling, suffered a stroke and isn’t able to move most of his body. He said it’s caused by chemical fumes.

The local government promised to enforce environmental regulations but many chemical plant owners know how to game the system.

They close down the factories during the day, when inspectors are more likely to come around. And then at night, they would ramp up production, when authorities will not be responding to complaints.

Inspectors said the plants are under surveillance at all times and reject claims by locals.

Villagers have tried to protest by blockading the plant and the highway, but authorities responded with beatings and detentions.

With no other choice, the villagers resign themselves to their fates.

 

 
 
 

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