Sep 12 (IPS) – Rapidly industrialising India and China have claimed four of the top 10 most polluted places on the planet for the first time, according to a report by U.S. and European environmental groups.
In 2006, Russia topped the list with the three sites in the top 10, but this year, two very large toxic sites affecting hundreds of thousands of people in India and China were included that had been missed in the previous global survey, said Richard Fuller, director of the New York- based Blacksmith Institute, a independent environmental group that released the list Sep. 12 report in partnership with Green Cross Switzerland.
“We were surprised these sites had not been reported before,” Fuller told IPS.
One is Tianjin in the Anhui Province of China, which produces about 50 percent of the country’s lead, often from low-level and illegal production facilities. A lack of environmental enforcement has resulted in severe lead poisoning, with soil and homes contaminated at levels 10 to 24 times China’s national standards.
Up to 140,000 people may be affected, suffering from brain damage and mental retardation.
“The Chinese government says it is one of the worst environmental sites in the country,” says David Hanrahan, Blacksmith’s director of global operations.
Another newly “discovered” toxic community is in India’s Sukinda Valley in the state of Orissa, home to 2.6 million people and one of the largest open cast chromite ore mines in the world. Twelve mines continue to operate without any environmental management plans. Over 30 million tonnes of waste rock are spread over the surrounding area and untreated water is discharged into the local river.
The ore is mined and refined for use in the many chrome-plated products enjoyed in North America and Europe, said Hanrahan.
Approximately 70 percent of the surface water and 60 percent of the drinking water contains hexavalent chromium at more than double national and international standards, and sometimes up to 20 times higher. In villages less than one kilometre from the sites, 24.47 percent of the inhabitants were found to be suffering from pollution-induced diseases.
“The fact of the matter is that children are sick and dying in these polluted places, and it’s not rocket science to fix them,” said Fuller.
For complete article see Worst Places on Earth Are Home to Millions.