Caller: Aluminum Smelting Villagers Refuse to Eat Own Crops


HONG KONG — ; Villagers in the central Chinese province of Henan working in makeshift aluminum recycling plants say pollution from the industry has worsened so sharply that they daren’t eat their own wheat, according to one local resident.

“They call it ‘patriotic food.’ They send this food out. They feel that it is not good enough and are afraid to eat it themselves."

“They plant wheat, but they normally do not eat their own wheat — ; they make it workers’ food,” a listener from Henan Province told Han Dongfang on his regular Mandarin-language call-in program.

“They call it ‘patriotic food.’ They send this food out. They feel that it is not good enough and are afraid to eat it themselves. Once, my brother-in-law harvested very good wheat where the [aluminum plant waste] water went through, but he was afraid to eat it. He sold it and didn’t eat any at all.”

Makeshift structures

The Henan resident said his village committee was running a backyard aluminum smelting operation under makeshift structures that employed up to 1,000 people at a time, turning contaminated aluminum into recycled aluminum sheets.

“Sometimes we have several hundred people, more than 500 people. Now we have about 200 to 300 people. Sometimes we have 1,000 people. They work two or more shifts depending on the workload,” the listener said.

Workers aged between 18 and 60 were employed by the plant, he said. Most were local residents, but some were from out of town.

No accountability

But he said that the “company” set up by the local Party committee didn’t appear to be accountable, either to workers for their safety or to the village for the contamination of its farmland.

“You won’t be able to find the aluminum company’s name in the directory. This organization is loose,” he said. “The management came from a committee and it is a local entity. They have a sign, but they don’t really have an office.”

He said that while many local residents avoided the industrial area and tried to avoid eating wheat grown in the area, no reliable information was available about the extent of the pollution and its effects on local residents and workers.

“It doesn’t feel good. I really don’t feel good because of the pollution...We try not to go there unless it’s absolutely necessary.”

“When the wind blows, the area gets grey. It covers the village for several miles,” he added. “You can see the effects on the villagers, but there is no specialized equipment to check specifically. I can’t really say for sure, but everyone can see it is pollution. The pollution is quite serious.”

Asked if environmental checks had been carried out, he replied: “As long as they can collect fees, they don’t care about inspections.”


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