Chemical factory pollution sparks riot in eastern China

Thousands of farmers rioted in a village in eastern China over the weekend, taking a stand against encroachment of the country’s fast-growing industries onto their land, and the pollution and health problems that result. Villagers had set up roadblocks to interfere with deliveries to and from the 13 chemical plants in the area that now sit on what used to be cropland. When some 3,000 police were sent to remove the roadblocks and restore production at the plants, villagers rioted, smashing buses, overturning cars, and attacking the police. Farmers and other locals say the factories — which produce fertilizers, pesticides, and dyes — damage their crops, foul their water, and periodically release clouds of stinging gas, causing birth defects and stillborn babies. Said one villager, “I’m afraid my children won’t live to reach my age. I want my land back, I want my food back, and I want my water back.”