Last update:
2018-02-27

Severe Water Pollution by Meiko Electronics plant in Wuhan, China

"Our generation will be drinking polluted water, but the next generation will be drinking poisoned water." - Wan Zhengyou, Nantaizi Lake fish farmer


Description:

According to a detailed report published by a coalition of environmental NGOs in China, Apple's Chinese supply chain has been identified as a serious threat to environmental health in China, with key suppliers such as Meiko Electronics being identified as having failed to address serious pollution issues caused by their manufacturing activities [1]. At the launch of the report in Beijing, the NGOs spearheading the campaign (including Friends of Nature and the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs led by prominent Chinese environmentalist Ma Jun) stated that they had "uncovered cases of severe environmental damage and serious complaints from local communities" owing to the huge amount of toxic waste that was being produced by certain Apple suppliers in China (ibid).

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Severe Water Pollution by Meiko Electronics plant in Wuhan, China
Country:China
State or province:Hubei
Location of conflict:Wuhan
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Water treatment and access to sanitation (access to sewage)
Manufacturing activities
Other industries
Specific commodities:Copper
electronics
contained" in" production" wastewater" as" well" as" other" cleaning" and" acidic" wastewater
E-waste
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

12,000 tons (daily discharge volume of wastewater)

Level of Investment:255,000,000
Type of populationUrban
Start of the conflict:01/04/2011
End of the conflict:26/04/2012
Company names or state enterprises: Meiko Electronics (Wuhan) Co., Ltd. from China - Polluter
Apple from United States of America - Meiko is a major supplier to Apple, making circuit boards for apple
Motorola from United States of America - Electronics company that purchases circuit boards from Meiko
Siemens from Germany - Meiko provided circuit boards for the company
Relevant government actors:Wuhan Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau, the Ministry of Water Resources Yangtze River Water Resources Commission
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Friends of Nature, Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, Green Beagle, Envirofriends, Green Stone Environmental Action Network
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Soil contamination, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage)
Other Environmental impactsnickel, cyanide, fluoride, degreasing agents, cleaning and acidic wastewater were pollutants found in the water [1]
Health ImpactsVisible: Other Health impacts
Potential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Other Health impactshealth impacts from drinking water contaminated by heavy metals
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Specific impacts on women
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Institutional changes
Strengthening of participation
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Development of alternatives:Third-party audit spearheaded by Beijing's Green Choice Alliance (led by Ma Jun's Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs) to investigate cause(s) of and solutions to environmental mismanagement by Meiko Electronics (Wuhan) Co., Ltd.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:"In the report titled The Other Side of Apple II, the environmental NGOs highlighted a number of
pollution problems at Apple’s PCB suppliers. After commissioning a third party organization to confirm
that the problems existed, Apple then pushed the suppliers to formulate and implement a corrective
action plan. [...] One such company that has made major changes after going through the audit
process is Meiko Electronics (Wuhan) Co., Ltd" [3].
Sources and Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[2] The Other Side of Apple (II): Pollution Spreads Through Apple's Supply Chain
[click to view]

[3] Apple Opens Up: IT Industry Supply Chain Investigative Draft Report – Phase VI
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[1] Apple: back under the spotlight
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:EJOLT team at School of Geography and China Centre, University of Oxford
Last update27/02/2018
Comments
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