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Collection: Lead and Zinc Mine Tailing Ponds Surrounding Villages in Hunan Province, China

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In May 2017, Greenpeace East Asia was informed about a case of severe soil pollution across five neighboring villages in Hunan Province, China. Hunan is China’s largest rice producer, but the province’s fertile rice paddies are interspersed with heavy metal mines, a combination that has led to dangerously high levels of soil pollution.
Yet available information about the extent of soil pollution in Hunan is limited.
Two decades of lead and zinc mining in these five villages has taken a major toll. The population of the villages, most of who are ethnically Miao, has experienced severe health impacts as a result of heavy metal exposure.
Eighty to 90 percent of the population in these five villages has kidney stones, and, each year, an average of 40 additional patients suffer from uremia, a complication of chronic kidney disease. In 2014, blood lead levels of all but one child tested in the villages exceeded the national standard.
In response, residents petitioned the local government and were seen blocking trucks heading to and from the mine to ask for compensation.
Greenpeace East Asia tested soil samples from the area. For the majority of samples, cadmium, arsenic, lead and zinc exceeded the national standard. Rice samples also tested above the national standard for chromium and lead, and, in several cases, arsenic. A more detailed breakdown of the results is available.
These photographs show not only aerial views of the affected areas but also the severe health impacts on the local population. The images shed light on what has become a near-invisible crisis.
Lead-zinc Mine Reserve in Hunan Province, China
8 Aug, 2016
Lead-zinc Mine Reserve in Hunan Province, China
Polluted River in China
8 Aug, 2016
Polluted River in China
Lead-zinc Mining Tailing Pond in Hunan Province, China
8 Aug, 2016
Lead-zinc Mining Tailing Pond in Hunan Province, China
Herd of Sheep near Polluted Area in China
18 Jul, 2017
Herd of Sheep near Polluted Area in China
Tailing Ponds of Taifeng Mining Company in Hunan Province, China
7 Aug, 2016
Tailing Ponds of Taifeng Mining Company in Hunan Province, China
Polluted River in Farmland in Hunan Province, China
8 Aug, 2016
Polluted River in Farmland in Hunan Province, China
Tailing Ponds of Taifeng Mining Company in Hunan Province, China
7 Aug, 2016
Tailing Ponds of Taifeng Mining Company in Hunan Province, China
Spoil Heaps Storage Field in Hunan Province, China
13 Jul, 2016
Spoil Heaps Storage Field in Hunan Province, China
Lead-zinc Mining Tailing Pond in Hunan Province, China
8 Aug, 2016
Lead-zinc Mining Tailing Pond in Hunan Province, China
Spoil Heaps Storage Field and Farmland in Hunan Province, China
7 Aug, 2016
Spoil Heaps Storage Field and Farmland in Hunan Province, China
Corn Covered by Heavy Metal Dust in China
19 Jul, 2017
Corn Covered by Heavy Metal Dust in China
Mining Wastewater in Corn Field in China
24 Jun, 2017
Mining Wastewater in Corn Field in China
Mining Wastewater in Rice Field in China
24 Jun, 2017
Mining Wastewater in Rice Field in China
Taifeng Mining Company’s Tailing Pond in Hunan Province, China
5 Aug, 2016
Taifeng Mining Company’s Tailing Pond in Hunan Province, China
Taifeng Mining Company’s Ore Washing Plant in Hunan Province, China
21 Jun, 2017
Taifeng Mining Company’s Ore Washing Plant in Hunan Province, China
Taifeng Mining Company’s Ore Washing Plant in Hunan Province, China
22 Jun, 2017
Taifeng Mining Company’s Ore Washing Plant in Hunan Province, China
Taifeng Mining Company’s Toxic Waste in Hunan Province, China
21 Jun, 2017
Taifeng Mining Company’s Toxic Waste in Hunan Province, China
Taifeng Mining Company’s Ore Washing Plant in Hunan Province, China
22 Jun, 2017
Taifeng Mining Company’s Ore Washing Plant in Hunan Province, China
Taifeng Mining Company’s Ore Washing Plant in Hunan Province, China
21 Jun, 2017
Taifeng Mining Company’s Ore Washing Plant in Hunan Province, China
Taifeng Mining Company’s Ore Washing Plant in Hunan Province, China
21 Jun, 2017
Taifeng Mining Company’s Ore Washing Plant in Hunan Province, China
Taifeng Mining Company’s Ore Washing Plant in Hunan Province, China
5 Aug, 2016
Taifeng Mining Company’s Ore Washing Plant in Hunan Province, China
Taifeng Mining Company’s Ores in Hunan Province, China
21 Jun, 2017
Taifeng Mining Company’s Ores in Hunan Province, China
Taifeng Mining Company’s Ore Washing Plant in Hunan Province, China
5 Aug, 2016
Taifeng Mining Company’s Ore Washing Plant in Hunan Province, China
Taifeng Mining Company’s Ore Washing Plant in Hunan Province, China
21 Jun, 2017
Taifeng Mining Company’s Ore Washing Plant in Hunan Province, China
Taifeng Mining Company’s Ore Washing Plant in Hunan Province, China
5 Aug, 2016
Taifeng Mining Company’s Ore Washing Plant in Hunan Province, China
Village Chief with Appeal Application in China
6 Aug, 2016
Village Chief with Appeal Application in China
Villager on Truck Transporting Ores in China
6 Aug, 2016
Villager on Truck Transporting Ores in China
Mining Affected Villagers Ask for Compensation in China
24 Jun, 2017
Mining Affected Villagers Ask for Compensation in China
Villager Carries Bottled Water in China
8 Aug, 2016
Villager Carries Bottled Water in China
Patients at Hospital in China
22 Jul, 2017
Patients at Hospital in China
Girl's Health Affected by Exposure to Heavy Metals in China
21 Jul, 2017
Girl's Health Affected by Exposure to Heavy Metals in China
Girls' Health Affected by Exposure to Heavy Metals in China
21 Jul, 2017
Girls' Health Affected by Exposure to Heavy Metals in China
Patients at Huayuan People's Hospital in China
20 Jul, 2017
Patients at Huayuan People's Hospital in China
Resident Shows Scar from Surgery in China
19 Jul, 2017
Resident Shows Scar from Surgery in China
Groundwater Well in China
19 Jul, 2017
Groundwater Well in China
Patient at Hospital in China
22 Jun, 2017
Patient at Hospital in China
Patient at Hospital in China
20 Jul, 2017
Patient at Hospital in China
Patient Waiting for Treatment at Hospital in China
20 Jul, 2017
Patient Waiting for Treatment at Hospital in China
Resident's Health Affected by Exposure to Heavy Metals in China
18 Jul, 2017
Resident's Health Affected by Exposure to Heavy Metals in China
Resident's Health Affected by Exposure to Heavy Metals in China
18 Jul, 2017
Resident's Health Affected by Exposure to Heavy Metals in China
Resident's Health Affected by Exposure to Heavy Metals in China
18 Jul, 2017
Resident's Health Affected by Exposure to Heavy Metals in China
Resident's Health Affected by Exposure to Heavy Metals in China
18 Jul, 2017
Resident's Health Affected by Exposure to Heavy Metals in China
Resident's Health Affected by Exposure to Heavy Metals in China
18 Jul, 2017
Resident's Health Affected by Exposure to Heavy Metals in China
Victim of Heavy Metal Pollution in China
18 Jul, 2017
Victim of Heavy Metal Pollution in China
Victim of Heavy Metal Pollution in China
21 Jun, 2017
Victim of Heavy Metal Pollution in China
Funeral of Victim of Heavy Metal Pollution in China
24 Jul, 2017
Funeral of Victim of Heavy Metal Pollution in China
Funeral of Victim of Heavy Metal Pollution in China
24 Jul, 2017
Funeral of Victim of Heavy Metal Pollution in China
Funeral of Victim of Heavy Metal Pollution in China
24 Jul, 2017
Funeral of Victim of Heavy Metal Pollution in China
Funeral of Victim of Heavy Metal Pollution in China
24 Jul, 2017
Funeral of Victim of Heavy Metal Pollution in China
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