One of the most memorable scenes in Roberto Saviano’s book Gomorrah is his description of the illegal waste-dumping schemes of southern Italy’s Camorra organized crime syndicate. In a chapter called “Land of Fires,” Saviano conjures a Blakean landscape of rampant groundwater toxins, dispersed radioactivity, industrial sludges, paints, and slowly lethal atmospheres perfumed with hexavalent chromium. Unsurprisingly, a new report shows that cancer rates in the region have spiked, including “‘excessive’ instances of tumors, especially brain tumors.”
[Image: Via Blogger News Network].
The BBC reports today on China’s so-called cancer villages.
In Shangba, for instance, a “river runs to the side of the village, its shallow waters rippling over smooth stones. In the past,” the BBC writes, Shangba’s “villagers relied on the river for drinking water, and to irrigate their crops. What they did not know was that mines further upstream were dumping their waste into it.”
Run-off from the mines has now built up as “a thick red residue at the water’s edge” – yet a suitable source for clean water has not been found.
China’s problems with cancer are obviously not limited to Shangba. “This is a situation repeated across China,” the BBC continues. “Some 320 million people drink polluted water every day.” The Telegraph calls these polluted sources China’s cancer rivers.
Last year, Common Dreams pointed out that the exact connection between pollution, drinking water, air quality, and China’s rising cancer rate is actually harder to make than you’d think. For instance, “lack of evidence remains a problem as local government officials pressure doctors into staying silent over the link between pollution and the high cancer rate.”
Meanwhile, air pollution in China is so bad that the country has generated “toxic clouds so big that they can seen from space, drifting across the Pacific to California laden with microscopic particles of chemicals that cause cancer and diseases of the heart and lung.”
[Image: Via Stefan Landsberger’s Chinese Propaganda Poster Pages].
Parts of China now see “darkness at noon”:
Cancer rates are soaring, child health is a time bomb and the population, many of whom are heavy cigarette smokers, are paying the price for China’s breakneck rush to riches and industrialisation – an estimated 400,000 premature deaths nationwide because of pollution every year.
All of which continues to point toward the militarization of China’s natural resources, wherein once wild rivers will be replaced with bottled water trucked in from afar – an artificialization of the riverine world explored last year on BLDGBLOG as “hydrology under military escort.”