AUTHORITIES in eastern China have detained 74 people and suspended production at hundreds of battery factories in a widening crackdown on heavy metals pollution after dozens of people were sickened by lead and cadmium poisoning.
The government in Zhejiang Province said Monday that some of the people were detained in connection with pollution that sickened 172 people, including 53 children, near a battery factory in the city of Taizhou. Water and power to 652 factories was cut, it said in a statement.
The manager of Taizhou Suqi Storage Battery Co. was arrested in late March and three government officials were suspended for neglecting to properly supervise the factory after tests found many living near the facility had high levels of lead in their blood.
The statement Monday said that investigation resulted in 74 people being detained in 56 cases that were handed to police for possible prosecution.
Lead poisoning can damage the nervous, muscular and reproductive systems. Children are particularly at risk.
The poisonings in Taizhou were among many in Zhejiang, a major battery production center, and elsewhere in eastern and southern China that appear to have prompted the latest push for better local enforcement of China’s environmental standards.
In Zhejiang’s Deqing County, 53 people were hospitalized after tests in late April found high lead levels in the blood of 332 residents near a factory making lead-acid motorcycle batteries. All three local factories were ordered to stop production.
The crackdown is aimed at preventing and reducing contamination of the environment with lead, cadmium, mercury, chromium and other heavy metals.(SD-Agencies)