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Lead poisoning by Huixian Nonferrous Metals Smelting, Gansu, China

Hundreds of people were found with excessive blood lead levels at Huixian County, Gansu province of northwestern China in 2006, the blamed company was ordered to shut down and compensated the victims.


Huixian County is in the southeast of Gansu province and has rich deposits of lead, zinc, iron, mercury, sulphur, etc. [1] There are 3 large deposits of lead and zinc and 1.05 million tons of metal reserves. With this advantage, Huixian Nonferrous Metals Smelting Co., Ltd. was established in 1995 and in operation one year later (1996) and quickly became the leading enterprise for smelting of lead metal. The tax paid by more than 10 lead-zinc mines and companies in the county have accounted for more than 60% of the county’s finances. [10]

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Lead poisoning by Huixian Nonferrous Metals Smelting, Gansu, China
State or province:Gansu Province
Location of conflict:mainly in Xinsi Village and Mouba Village of Shuiyang Township, Huixian County, Longnan City
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral processing
Metal refineries
Specific commodities:Lead
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The company is based on the Luoba lead-zinc mine in southern Longnan. It is mainly engaged in the smelting of lead metal for non-ferrous metals. The designed capacity is 3,000 tons per year. The current scale is 5,000 tons per year.[10] The company's smelter is only 2.5 kilometers away from Huixian, 500 meters to 1000 meters from the villagers' settlement of Xinsi Village, Shuiyang Town.[11] Its registered capital is CNY 4.315 million (64,113 USD dollars).[10]

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Level of Investment:64,113
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:2,000-6,000
Start of the conflict:03/2006
End of the conflict:07/2011
Company names or state enterprises:Huixian Nonferrous Metals Smelting Co., Ltd. from China - polluter
Relevant government actors:-the National Environmental Protection Administration (National Ministry of Ecology and Environment)
-the Gansu Provincial Environmental Protection Bureau
-the government of Huixian County
-CPC Central Committee
-CPC Gansu Provincial Committee
-the provincial government of Gansu
-Gansu Health Department (as the "Health Commission of Gansu Province" since March 2018)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:--Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims (Beijing Huanzhu Law Firm,
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Potential: Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Other Health impacts, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Potential: Occupational disease and accidents
Other Health impactsexcessive blood lead levels
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Project cancelled
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The lawsuit with over 1000 plaintiffs ended with compensation and meditation. The case opened opportunities for people to pursue their rights through law and adjudication. However, the health and environmental impacts could not be evaluated
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[12]Yang, D. P. (2008) (eds) The China Environment Yearbook, Volume 2: Changes and Struggles. Leiden: Brill. ISBN:9789004168008.
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Huang, Q. H. (2015). Legal issues research on compensation and prevention of damage caused by blood lead poisoning in children: special legislative advice. [儿童血铅中毒事件损害赔偿和防治法律问题研究-专门立法的建议]. Rule of Law Research (6), pp. 122-134. doi: 10.16224/j.cnki.cn33-1343/d.2015.06.013
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[2]评论:甘肃千余村民血铅超标 群众有三个不相信-accessed on 10/03/2019
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[3]民主与法制:甘肃徽县八百村民状告铅污染-accessed on 10/03/2019
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[5]人民政协报:为环境污染受害者撑开法律"保护伞" -accessed on 10/03/2019
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[6]甘肃徽县血铅超标续:排污企业400米内土壤受污-accessed on 10/03/2019
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[7]甘肃一冶炼企业被初步认定为"血铅超标"污染源-accessed on 10/03/2019
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[8]甘肃徽县铅中毒案结案-accessed on 10/03/2019
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[9]甘肃通报徽县铅污染事件处理决定 20人受处分-accessed on 10/03/2019
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[10]甘肃陇南徽县铅中毒事件责任人将被立案查处-accessed on 10/03/2019
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[11]甘肃陇南徽县“血铅超标”事件再追踪-accessed on 10/03/2019
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[1]甘肃徽县血铅超标事件调查:谁让368位村民中毒-accessed on 10/03/2019
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[14]甘血铅超标孩子忧未来 旧牙掉新牙长不出(图)-accessed on 10/03/2019
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[4]甘肃徽县铅中毒事件真相一再被隐瞒(组图)-accessed on 10/03/2019
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[13] 954 children confirmed with excessive lead in blood-accessed on 13/03/2019
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250 children hospitalized for lead poisoning in Gansu
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Another 2,000 Villagers to Take Blood Lead Level Test
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[15]甘肃省通报处理徽县血铅超标事件责任人(图)-accessed on 14/03/2019
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Contributor:EnvJustice, ICT-UAB/CY
Last update29/03/2019
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