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Blue Jeans Pollution

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This is the Pearl River Delta, otherwise known as the world's factory floor. Thousands of factories are based here, and they make almost anything you could ever want. This part of the river is lined with textile factories, denim and dyeing factories. All of those factories produce industrial waste, and that waste has to go somewhere. The reason we came to this particular part of the river is because when you look at satellite images of this area, one part of the river is a lot darker and blacker than the other part of the river. And if you look at the river bank here, it's simply covered in trash, a lot of it, scraps of blue denim. That's because this is the blue jean capital of the world. So this is what blue jeans look like at the very beginning. It's just plain white cotton thread. That white cotton is now being lowered into this boiling vat of dye. And when it comes out, it will be that dark indigo blue color we all know very well. The big question is : where does all of this wastewater go? This is a toxic mixture of dye, bleach, and starch. The factory owner says that most of it gets treated and then reused, but some of it does get discharged. He says he doesn't know where it goes. So, this is the edge of the factory property and you can see there are several pipes, leading directly from the factory property and into the Pearl River. The problem with those pipes is they don't have labeling. You don't know what is coming out from them. There have been several studies done on the water quality in the Pearl River and what they found is that the water contains things like heavy metals, carcinogens, organic chemicals. These are things that are very hazardous to human health and can be linked to things like cancer, brain damage, kidney problems. I can tell you that the smell here is incredibly overpowering. It smells stagnant and really just plain foul. The government says it plans to invest 5 billion dollars to improve wastewater treatment, with regulations requiring companies to pass wastewater tests and random inspections. Fining those that exceed pollution limits, even vowing to shut them down. If they are violating standards, we'll treat them as criminals, this local official says. But officials admit keeping tabs on so many different factories, is an enormous challenge. The bottom line is water is a vital resource. Experts say China's breakneck economic growth cannot continue without adequate environmental protection, and if these current trends persist here and across the country, China could be facing a massive water crisis in years to come. Emily Chang, CNN, Guangzhou, China.

Video Details

Duration: 2 minutes and 59 seconds
Country: China
Language: English
Views: 1,240
Posted by: justadust on Apr 14, 2011

Video speaking about blue jeans pollution in the delta of Zhu Jiang river

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