Lax enforcement allows toxic sludge to overrun Chinese village

Here’s China’s environmental situation in a nutshell: In 2004, after a toxic spill into the Yellow River, two Chinese paper mills were fined $300,000 and ordered to install water-recycling and treatment equipment. They didn’t. Instead, city officials built temporary wastewater containment pools beside the river. An environmental official ordered the city to shut down the factories if they continued to violate water-emission requirements. The factories continued; the city did nothing. In April 2006, a storm threatened to push wastewater from the pools into the river; fearing their refusal to comply with earlier orders would be exposed, officials diverted the wastewater into a three-mile strip beside the river, where several small villages stood. Farmers in the village of Sugai tried to build a dike, but the water was too high; liquid sludge sucked 57 homes into a polluted black lake. Three months later, the village remained uninhabitable, former residents had rashes, and the farmland was unworkable. Officials have declined to comment. Wouldn’t you?