08/08/2009, 00.00
CHINA
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Pork, poisoned with heavy metals, on the market

In the Zhentou area, where a factory has polluted the environment and poisoned residents with heavy metals, the destruction of agricultural products and livestock was ordered. But fears remain that some of meats ended up on the market.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - China now fears that livestock and agricultural products from the area surrounding the chemical plant Xiang, in Zhentou (Hunan), polluted to lethal levels, have been distributed for consumption, instead of being destroyed.

The chemical plant for years has released into the environment heavy metals such as cadmium and indium, in deadly quantities. There have been at least 5 deaths in the area and over 500 certified victims of related illness and the land is now considered unsuitable for cultivation for at least 60 years.

For years residents have complained about the pollution but local authorities silenced them. When the scandal broke out in July, authorities ordered the destruction of agricultural products and livestock within a radius of 500 meters from the factory. In the village of Puhua near the factory, the pigs examined were filled with cadmium. To placate the protests of farmers, officials paid for their products at market price.

But now the farmers explain that several pigs and chickens were not killed, but taken away by the owner of a nearby farm. They say they have seen grain destroyed, but that part was also taken away.

Even in the nearby village of Shuangqiao chickens and pigs were taken away, instead of being killed on the spot.

The whole country is wondering what officials in charge have done to tackle the problem and fear a new episode of complete disregard for the public good.

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