The city of Daye in Hubei province of China is rich in mineral resources, which has made mining and smelting the main source of economic income and a major source of pollution for centuries. The heavy metal contaminants include arsenic, mercury, chromium, and cadmium and particularly high levels. Every rainfall causes mine tailings from operations to leach into the floodplains. There are two main rivers (East and West) that flow through the tailings piles and past smelting operations, emptying directly into Daye Lake. As a result of the runoff in the floodplain, most of the farmland is completely contaminated
To try and tackle this problem, Pure Earth partnered with Prof. Xioahua Lu, PhD supervisor, and academic leader of Huazhong University of Science & Technology (HUST) in Hubei. Prof. Lu has been greatly concerned about the heavy metal contamination issue in Daye city and has tried every possible means to get to the local governments to address the issue.
Prof. Lu, with the technical and financial support of Pure Earth, contacted the Hubei Research Academy of Environmental Sciences and Environmental Protection Bureau of Daye City and formed a Stakeholders Group. Prof. Lu led the group to conduct field investigations, the pilot project and finally recommendations for further action. The stakeholder group decided that Shuanggang village in Daye would be the pilot remediation site, due to it’s proximity to the Daye Non-ferrous Metals Smelting Plant.
Their research revealed levels of heavy metals in excess of acceptable standards. Although the field experiments were duplicated in the lab, the results were quite different. The protocols are being revised and the results are still a valuable reference for the further work. Despite the inconsistencies of the data, the field results are alarming enough that the local government is no engaged and paying attention to this problem. The project has also given a platform to local farmers to keep advocating for a permanent solution. The remediation technology trials of heavy metal contaminated soils were completed. Although there was a significant reduction in heavy metal concentrations, the land is so polluted that further additives and plant sources must be developed and tested.
- Initiate stakeholder group
- Conduct health survey
- Identify project site
- Test various chemical remediation technologies
- Expand pilot throughout the city