Lead poisoning by Melody Chemical plant in Hengdong, Hunan, China

In 2014, more than 300 children in Hengdong County of Hunan Province were reported to have excessive/ poisoning blood lead levels. After a legal battle, some families finally achieved to receive compensation.


Description

On June 14, 2014, it was disclosed by many media accounts including CCTV that “more than 300 children in Dapu Town, Hengdong County of Hunan Province have excessive blood lead level” which seriouly affected their physical and mental health. [15] The blood lead test revealed that among the 315 children around Hengdong County Melody Chemical plant, 82 were in the excessive blood lead level, 8 were in mild poisoning blood lead level and 2 were in moderate poisoning blood lead level, which can be identified as a major environmental pollution incident. [1] In children, high lead exposure leads to cognitive delays and behavioral problems and can be fatal at extremely high levels. Its effects are permanent and irreversible. Studies have shown that childhood lead exposure is associated with higher adult violent crime rates. [2]

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Basic Data
NameLead poisoning by Melody Chemical plant in Hengdong, Hunan, China
CountryChina
ProvinceHunan
SiteDapu Town, Hengdong County
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Chemical industries
Specific Commodities lithopone
Zinc
Chemical products
Lead
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe sludge test results of the sewage discharged from Melody Chemical Industry show that the lead content is more than 33400 mg/kg, exceeding the standard (normal standard 500 mg/kg) more than 60 times. The zinc content is 11200 mg / kg, exceeding the standard (normal standard 500 mg / kg) more than 20 times; the cadmium content is 10100 mg / kg, exceeding the standard (normal standard 500 mg / kg) more than 20 times. [3]

Parents of children with excessive blood lead said in a interview that the compensation will be used to supplement the nutrition of the child. Now the child's blood lead level has dropped to around 100 ug / L. “After the shutdown of Melody Chemical, the government paid for the waste and cleaned up the environment, and the air became cleaner.” [16]
Level of Investment (in USD)unknown
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population300-400
Start Date14/06/2014
End Date12/09/2018
Company Names or State EnterprisesMelody Chemical plant from China
Relevant government actors-Hengdong County Government

-Hengdong County Environmental Protection Bureau
Environmental justice organisations and other supporters-Changsha Shuguang Huanbao (ENGO, https://www.weibo.com/sghb201381). It followed the entire case and organize meetings and conferences for the affected families not only in Hengdong, but in Chenzhou, Shimen to meet with experts, lawyers, environmentalists and learn how to evaluate the impacts and how to file the lawsuit, etc.

-Pan Qing'an, an environmentalist who documented the case.
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Forms of MobilizationInvolvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Refusal of compensation
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Soil contamination
Potential: Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition, Other Health impacts
Potential: Occupational disease and accidents
Othercognitive delays and behavioral problems in childhood; studies have shown that childhood lead exposure is associated with higher adult violent crime rates. [2]
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood
Potential: Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Outcome
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Repression
Project cancelled
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The damage to health is still there. But as indicated by the lawyer, "this case will be a useful reference for other families affected by pollution, particularly heavy metals pollution, and give them the confidence and courage to use the law to defend their environmental rights".
Sources and Materials
References

[14]Pan, QA.《血铅Ÿ儿童》(Lead, Children)
[click to view]

[2]Ji, A., Wang, F., Luo, W., Yang, R., Chen, J. and Cai, T., 2011. Lead poisoning in China: a nightmare from industrialisation. The Lancet, 377(9776), pp.1474-1476.
[click to view]

Links

[3]澎湃追踪|央视关注衡阳300血铅儿童,官员称系啃铅笔致病(accessed on 01-10-2018.)
[click to view]

[10]Significant milestones reached in Hengdong's fight against pollution(accessed on 01-10-2018.)
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[4]湖南衡东县300余名儿童血铅超标事件4名官员被免(accessed on 01-10-2018.)
[click to view]

[7]湖南儿童血铅案现撤诉潮(accessed on 01-10-2018.)
[click to view]

[8]衡阳血铅案判赔2.6万(accessed on 01-10-2018.)
[click to view]

[1]湖南儿童血铅案(accessed on 01-10-2018.)
[click to view]

[9]湖南儿童血铅中毒赔偿、超标不赔(accessed on 01-10-2018.)
[click to view]

[11]湖南血铅案7名受害者最多获赔9万(accessed on 01-10-2018.)
[click to view]

[6]Landmark Case on Lead Poisoning in Children Begins(accessed on 01-10-2018.)
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[5]评论:衡阳“儿童血铅超标”案,谁在装睡(accessed on 01-10-2018.)
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[13]Four Years On, Company Agrees to Pay Lead Poisoning Victims(accessed on 01-10-2018.)
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[12]China Daily: Too small a compensation for lead poisoning (accessed on 2018-10-01)
[click to view]

[16]湖南衡阳“儿童血铅超标”案达成调解 7名受害者最多获赔9万元
[click to view]

Media Links

[15]湖南衡东300多名儿童血铅严重超标
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湖南衡阳300儿童血铅超标 开始审理
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Other Documents

The head of the township was shown saying children might have raised their own lead levels by chewing on pencils[3]
[click to view]

Plaintiffs in front of the court
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Children affected by exccessive blood lead
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CCTV news
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorEnvJustice, ICTA-UAB/NWAFU interns
Last update14/03/2019
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