On May 18, the Guangzhou Municipal Food and Drug Administration official website announced the detection of heavy metal pollution in eight batches of rice and published the manufacturers, out of which six batches were from Youxian, Hengdong of Hunan Province and other places. On May 21, the Guangdong Provincial Food Safety Office reported the detection of heavy metals in another 31 batches of rice, among them 10 rice brands from Hunan Province were involved covering Zhuzhou, Chenzhou, Changde, Yiyang and other cities which are the places of production of the cadmium-tainted rice (镉米).
With the list of places where the problematic rice had been grown, reporter travelled to some of these cities in Hunan Province trying to find out the underlying causes of the problem.
Reporter during the survey found the Hengdong Dongyang Rice Mill, which is located in a small town named Hengdong Dapu Town. The town also gathered more than 10 mining enterprises such as Meilun Chemical Plant, Chuangda and Jinyu Chemical. Some enterprises often released the sewage during the nights.
It is learned that the number of similar medium-sized industrial and mining enterprises reached more than 1,600 around the Xiangjiang River with a huge volume of industrial waste water and waste being discharged into the Xiangjiang River which is the major source of the water for irrigation in these areas. Thus the possibility cannot be ruled out that excessive heavy metals had polluted the rice through the industrial waste water.
EPA monitoring data showed that water quality of Hunan Xiangjiang River since the 1990s has shown a deteriorating trend with major sources being industrial pollution and wastewater pollution. In particular the industrial pollution of heavy metals is significant with mercury, cadmium, lead and arsenic accounting for 54.5%, 37%, 6% and 14.1% of the respective national emission.
Source: 21st Century