BEIJING Oct 19 China will move 15,000
residents living near the country's biggest lead smelter base
after more than 1,000 children were found to have excessive
amounts of the metal in their blood, a Chinese newspaper
The weekend edition of the English-language China Daily
said the residents of Jiyuan in central Henan province would be
relocated from the smelters, which have become a source of
local discontent and another symbol of China's often unbridled
Chinese state media reported last week that over 1,000
children in Jiyuan had excessive levels of lead in their blood.
The smelter operator, Yuguang Gold and Lead (600531.SS), said
its plants bore some responsibility. [ID:nPEK331271]
A child exposed to heavy concentrations of lead can develop
anaemia, muscle weakness and brain damage, and a rash of
reported poisonings across several Chinese provinces has raised
pressure on officials and companies to deal with the problem.
The mayor of Jiyuan, Zhao Suping, said 15,000 people in 10
villagers around the plants would move at a total cost of about
1 billion yuan ($150 million), allowing the lead plants to keep
operating, the China Daily reported.
Not all locals had been mollified, said the paper.
"I am not satisfied with the current steps by the
government," said one resident, surnamed Li, according to the
paper. She said her two granddaughters were found to have lead
levels far above safe limits.
"I think the government should respond faster and do more
to prevent similar cases from occurring."
After the people move, the smelters will rent their
abandoned land and plant trees to serve as a barrier protecting
nearby villages, the report said.
An official in one of the villagers set to move said the
residents were likely to be shifted to a site 4 km (miles) from
their present homes.
(Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Ken Wills and Dean