On May 12th 2008, a massive earthquake struck southwestern China. The epicenter was in Wenchuan county, in Sichuan province. Nearly 70 thousand people lost their lives during the quake which measured 8.0 on the Richter scale.
Sichuan is home to a high number of mining complexes and chemical industries, scores of which were damaged during the quake. Anecdotal evidence indicates that there were significant toxic emissions from these sources, contaminating groundwater and soil. Among other contaminants, liquid ammonia and various POPs were found to have leaked in high levels. Because many area residents rely on agriculture and groundwater for their livelihoods, there is a large potential threat posed by these toxic releases.
To address this threat, Blacksmith Institute entered into a partnership with the Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research (IGSNRR) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. During the length of project IGSNRR developed an inventory of toxic releases in Sichuan, and designed remediation plans to remove human exposure pathways. Both the inventory and the plans are available to government agencies to assist in the reconstruction