The thirty most polluted places in the world 3


blacksmith_institute_report.jpg The Blacksmith Institute, an environmental NGO from the United States, released this month a report on the 30 most polluted places on Earth.

Of the top ten, two are located in China, two in India, two in Russia and another two in the former Soviet bloc. Among the locations is Chernobyl in Ukraine.

As we will see, some sites affect the lives of million people.

Among the top ten is the the city of Linfen in China which concentrates an impressive amount of coal fired plants. All these electricity generators literally poison the lives of three million people.

Shanxi Province is at the heart of China’s enormous and expanding coal industry, providing about two thirds of the nation’s energy. Within this highly polluted region, Linfen has been identified as one of its most polluted cities with residents claiming that they literally choke on coal dust in the evenings.

(…)
Rapid development and unequivocal faith in industry has led to the development of hundreds of unregulated coal mines, steel factories and refineries which have not only polluted indiscriminately but have also diverted agricultural water sources. Water is so tightly rationed that even the provincial capital receives water for only a few hours each day.

It seems the local government is willing to tackle this worrying fact as the Blacksmith Institute notes :

By the end of this year, the city of Linfen plans to shut down 160 of 196 of its iron foundries and 57 of 153 of its coal producing plants. Small, highly polluting plants will be replaced with larger, cleaner, more regulated facilities. Emissions will be cut further by shifting from coal to gas for central heating. Last year, Linfen’s residents gained 15 more days of clean, breathable air as a result of newly implemented initiatives.

It is no surprise to see a Chinese city in this list as we already saw in a previous article that 16 cities from the People’s Republic are mentioned in the 20 cities with the worst air pollution. (cf. Air pollution kills thousands every year in China, dated July 2nd, 2007)

The former nuclear site of Chernobyl, in Ukraine, is in the list provided by the Blacksmith Institute and remains for many a sign why nuclear power should be stopped now.

But the technology that was used in Ukraine (RBMK) is not used in France or else. The few remaining RBMK reactors in Russia have been heavily improved since.

The other types of nuclear plants (like PWR) have totally different architectures and have nothing in common with RBMK, and thus have improved security. Furthermore, plants include in most cases more robust containment structures (source : US NRC)

Back to Chernobyl, a new sarcophagus will be built soon my two French companies, Bouygues and Vinci (see the press release). This will be done in order to secure the site as the old sarcophagus is leaking.

To go further on the worst polluted sites worldwide, among the sources of pollution are industries and their release of pollutants (cases of Vapi in India or Sumgayit in Azerbaijan), weapons manufacturing (in Russia), and mining (cases of La Oroya in Peru, Sukinda in India or Tianying in China).

To access the full report, please go to this page. The full report (70 pages) is accessible directly there.

An interactive map has been done to show easily the distribution of the sites on a map (uses Google maps)

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3 thoughts on “The thirty most polluted places in the world

  • Godofredo Arauoz

    POLLUTION TO THE OROYA CITY PERÚ
    The years 2006 and 2007 the Blacksmith Institute have accomplished a research about the cities more contaminated to the world and arrived to the conclusion that the Oroya City was between the 10 cities more polluted of the world and the environment, Graffiti 2008 is between more pollute too to the world and the 2008 Blacksmith Institute and Green Cross Switzerland say that Oroya is between the most polluted of the world. This qualification are benevolents; according to my researchs to many years that I am publishing, the Oroya is the more polluted to Peru, Latin America and of the world and every day is being more polluted: lead in blood in children in the Ancient Oroya in average 53.7 ug/dl ( DIGESA 1999); pregnancies women 39.49 ig/dl ( UNES 2000), new borns children 19.06 ug/dl, puerperal 319 ug/100 grams/placenta ( Castro 2003) and workers 50 ig/dl ( Doe Run 2003). Top lead in blood accepted 10 ug/dl; present day is 0 ug/dl ( Pediatric of Academy to USA)
    When the Oroya city was in hands to the CentroMin eliminated only by the upper chimney to 167.500 meters, in average by day in tons: sulfur dioxide 1000, lead 2500, arsenic 2500, cadmium, particulate matter 50 and so on, more 24,000 to toxis gas product to the incomplete combustion of the coal, without count it is eliminated by industrial incinerator y by the 97 smalls chimneys, it is estimated 15,000; overall 45,000 tons fot day (PAMA . El Complejo Metalúrgico de la Oroya, 1996); other research say that by this chimney only eliminate overall 119¨917,440 tons too every day to a velocity to 8.7 meters by second ( Chuquimantari C. Yauli-La Oroya Minería y Ciudades Empresas Pág. 57, 1992)
    Doe Run envoy every three months the concentrations of the heavy metals to the Ministry to the Energy and Mines and with the sames datums Ceverstav have demostrated the pollution was increased; for example the sulfur dioxide it have increased in near to 300 %, by increment to the production (Cederstav. La Oroya no Espera 2002
    The American Association to the Environment say that the environmental quality to the Oroya it is serious deteriorated since that Doe Run was owner and the same enterprise
    declared that the concentrations of the heavy metals gas it is ncreased in the air: lead 1160 %, cadmium 1990 % and arsenic 6006 % (Portugal, et al. Los Humos de Doe Run 2003)

  • Goodofredo Arauzo

    Reply to the commentary of Mr Victor Belaunde about Contamination of La Oroya, Perú.

    Dr. Godofredo Arauzo

    Blacksmith Institute visited the Oroya city in May 2008. The observations about the achievements in the pollution by this metallurgic complex, according to statements of The Inter American Association for the Defense of the Environment (AIDA) by its name in Spanish.are DECEIVING, because such statements have no basis; is a summary presented by Doe Run. AIDA sustain that the environmental quality and the fulfillment or the degree of protection for human health of the Oroya city can not be evaluated based on the quantity of investment made by the company but it should be done based on the current data about the quality of air, lead level in the blood and another environmental and health indicators, that the report does not take into account (1).
    Critic that Blacksmith is based on limited datum in order to evaluate, for example, the sulphur bioxide (SO2) level in the zone. Blacksmith Institute affirms that the SO2 concentration in the Oroya city has a day time average of 5.000 ug/m3 (maximum allowed is 13 ug/m3) (CDC); but during the day that Blacksmith was in the Oroya, the SO2 concentration was 0.(1)
    Finally AIDA concludes that the Blacksmith report undermines the efforts to really reach the remediation and cleaning of Oroya city (1)
    AIDA express too that the quality of air in the Oroya has deteriorated seriously after the metallurgic complex came into Doe Run’s hands. Doe Run itself said that the lead concentration raised to 1.163%, the arsenic to 606% and the cadmium to 1990% (2). The concentrations of lead, cadmium, arsenic, sulphur dioxide and others have substantially increased since 1997, mainly due to the increasing of production; for example, the lead production raised 25% (2). The inhabitants of Oroya city are contaminated by a toxic cocktail (4); it is a living laboratory.
    The cadmium concentration (Cd) raised dramatically since the acquisition of the complex by Doe Run. In 1999 the Cd concentration was 0.22 ug/m3 in the Syndicate (the level allowed was 0.0055 ug/m3); it surpassed by more than 40 times the frontier and did not inform anymore to the Ministry for Mines and Energy (MEM) since year 2000; in the same way, the arsenic concentration soared meaningly since 1997. There is not monitoring of particulate material smaller than 2.5 micra (PM 2.5), that are the most dangerous to human health and move easily. Ceverstav says that the parameters of air quality have been deteriorated dramatically after Doe Run have in charge of the complex (5)
    The Environment Protection Agency of USA (EPA), has 1467 chemical compounds registered as the most harmful and the sulphur dioxide (SO2) is ranking number 16 in dangerousness (6). Cevestav showed based on the same figures that Doe Run sends to MEM every 3 months, that SO2 emission had incremented in more than 200% since Doe Run has in charge the complex (5).
    Blacksmith affirms that the SO2 concentration in the Oroya is in average 5,000 ug/m3 (1); another author reports that this average is 934 ug/m3 (2); the level allowed is 13 ug/m3 (7). The day time concentration is higher between 8 am and 5 pm and it reaches a peak of 2,100 ppb (the allowed value is 280 ppb) (5). In August 13. 2008 the SO2 concentration arrived to an historic and horrifying limit: 27,000 ug/m3 (8-9-10) (the allowed figure is 13 ug/m3 (7).
    Another heavy metals and highly toxic compounds are not analysed in the Oroya: vanadium, uranium, mercury, antimony, barium, selenium, chromium, cobalt, molybdenum, nickel, and aluminum (2). The inhabitants of the Oroya are contaminated, not only with lead but too with cadmium, arsenic, sulphur dioxide, and antimony, as well; the antimony concentration is 30 times higher than in USA (11): .
    There has not been any decrease in the air concentration of lead in the last 5 years in the Oroya; in Huanchan such concentration is above 15 times the level permitted; in the months of January and February 2007 it was an excess of 245% above the allowed level in Huanchan station; in 2006 the cadmium concentration exceeded 48 times the levels allowed by the WHO (12): lead production increased by 25% (2).
    Doe Run monitors only specific sources; it does not monitor the toxic agents that are emitted through the 95 small chimneys neither it monitors to the deposits of concentrateds and deposits to arsenic of Vados and Malpaso, as it does not monitor either the elimination coming from the industrial incinerator and the cock plant that was emitting 23,800 meters cubits per day of toxic gases (PAMA).
    Doe Run explained that the pollution of the Oroya had diminished; one attendant person spitted that the pollution has increased; the lecturer answered: show me a document about your statement and the person replied: the best document who I count of is my contaminated body’ (4).
    The SO2 emissions from the cooper Peruvian smelting are among the production sources of the highest sulphur dioxide concentration in the world and they are also among the most contaminated production sources in the world (13).
    There is not concrete information about the quality control systems to the sampling and to the analysis of the monitoring procedure used by the company; we are not certain about the accuracy, confidentiality and suitable of the information reported to MEM; the figures reported to MEM could be considered as an approximation and are under valuated and they are not in electronic neither in graphic form (5).
    The contamination generated in La Oroya is not only limited to this city, but it also pollutes distant areas like Concepcion, 100 km far away of Oroya: University of Missouri found lead in the blood of children with ages 0 to 6 years: 20 to 44 ug/dl in the 72.22% ; 10 to 19 ug/dl in the 16.67%; 45 to 69 ug/dl in the 8.33% and less than 10 ug/dl in the 2.78%; it means that the 97.22% of the children of the city of Conception are contaminated with more than 10 ug/dl of lead in their blood; the amount permitted was 10 ug/dl; but, at present the Academy of Paediatrics of USA says that the maximum allowed is 0 ug/dl of lead in the blood (14). In the rural zone near the Oroya, Cuchimachay there is an amount of 59.26 ppm (the allowed level being 3 ppm) of cadmium in the soil; there is no vegetal cap in this place (15).
    The metallurgic complex of Oroya has 37 liquid flows that go to the Mantaro river; Doe Run monitors only 12. The rules of the Peruvian state about monitoring of the quality of water in the mining works state that all the liquid discharges that go to surface waters must be constantly monitored (5-16).
    The 2006, 26 July Doe Run obtained the ISO 14001:2004 certificate (17) and the 2008, 11 March was removed because the company did not fulfull the Peruvian environmental laws, and did not have appropriate measures for preventing the pollution (18).
    Doe Run the 2007 commited 4 heavy and 1 simple violence environment that the Peruvian state had to put to Doe Run a fine to $ 724,500 (The Comercio 08. 20-12)
    In Huancayo, 120 km far away from La Oroya there is jurisprudence. In 1942 the Judiciary Power orders to the Cerro de Pasco Copper Corporation, owner of Oroya at that time, to pay a compensation of $ 200,000 to Bazo Velarde, because of the harms caused to the Jatunhuasi Livestock, by the smokes of the Oroya (19).
    The Judiciary Power (20), the Constitutional Court (21) and the Inter American Commission for Human Rights (CIDH, for its name in Spanish) (22), demanded that the Peruvian state to be aware about the health of the inhabitants of Oroya..
    Oroya pollutes the surface and deep waters, the soil, the air, and generates acid rain (23), factors that cause damages to human and animal health, the ecosystems and biodiversity, in a way greatly irreversible. The smokes of the Oroya have affected 700,000 hectares around the Oroya (2-24).
    Doe Run will reduce its contamination in two circumstances: when it uses up to date technology as put in practice in Herculeanum, or when it reduces the refining tons. The Trial plant, in Canada, decreased in 25% the lead concentration in the children blood, and reduced the concentration of heavy metals in the air in more than 75%, by the use of clean technology; in the Paso when the foundry was closed, the lead concentration in the air decreased immediately and the lead concentration in the children’s blood plummeted by more than 75%; in Torreón Mexico, the government ordered to refine only a 50%, and similar effects were obtained (5). The damages must be paid by Doe Run according to the world consensus THE THAT POLLUTE PAY, set in practice in Europe since 1972 (25); the way as it does in Herculaneum can reply these actions in Oroya city (2-27).
    .The 2008 August 13 Oroya city has been confirmed as the most polluted city to the world. This day the SO2 concentration in air in the Oroya reached an historical and horrifying level: as journal The Comercio said (8); it arrive 27,000 ug/m3; while the allowed level was 13 ug/m3 (7) and the device that measured the concentration got to its maximum limit probably if the device had had more space in its scale that figure would have been higher (8-9-10), but when Blacksmith was visiting the Oroya the SO2 concentration in air was 0 (zero) (1). Some other figures confirm that Oroya is the most polluted city on the earth: according the report Mantaro Revive 2007: in the Ancienty Oroya has a soil concentration of 4713 ppm of arsenic (As) while the allowed amount is 12 ppm, and the cadmium (Cd) has 193.87 ppm while the permitted amount is 14 ppm, according to the Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines (28).

  • Edouard Post author

    Many thanks Dr. Arauzo for your comment, this is a pleasure to have such an enlightening comment.

    Please be welcome on this website as well. I hope you will find it interesting.