February 25th, 2013 by Jake Richardson
A Chinese businessman has offered a reward to a government official to swim in a very polluted river. The reward is 200,000 yuan, which is about $32,000 American dollars. Many people might be very tempted to jump at this offer, but if you look at photos of the river filled with plastic and other repulsive looking items, it seems a far less attractive offer.
Jin Zengmin chief executive of a Hangzhou eyeglasses retailer and apparently a very good strategist for generating media attention.
His intriguing gambit sparked quite a number of online news articles, and indeed even resulted in the Environment Ministry admitting there are areas near villages that are so polluted they could be more prone to cancer.
“Poisonous and harmful chemical materials have brought about many water and atmosphere emergencies… certain places are even seeing ‘cancer villages. (Source: Times of India)
Swimming in a very polluted river actually could be risking death, because no one knows for sure exactly which toxic chemicals are in the water or on the floating debris. Jin Zengmin blamed a rubber overshoe companyfor some portion of the river waste. Ruian is located in Weifang, Shandong province where several factories might have been pumping toxic chemicals underground into the river. Villagers that can’t afford bottled water and have not been properly informed about the dangers of exposure to toxic, industrial materials have been using river water to wash vegetables and their clothing.
Rivers are often targeted for the illegal dumping of toxic and hazardous waste because they are deep enough to absorb it and there are currents that seem to disperse the material so it can’t be seen. However, certain signs often do emerge, such as numbers of dead fish on shores or floating at the water’s surface, patches of odd-colored water, dead aquatic plants, peculiar odors and suspicious containers that appear at low water levels. Government officials reportedly said the river pollution was caused by overpopulation, not by factories dumping waste.
Note: the river above is not the same one mentioned in the article, because the original images may be copyrighted.
Image Credit: Meg and rahul, Wiki Commons
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