A Shanghai woman has apparently succeeded in her attempt to stop a factory from polluting her Pudong neighborhood, and she didn’t need the help of a peasant revolt to do it. She just took the company to court.
A China Daily story with the unfortunate headline “Abortion woman stops factory pollution” tells the story of Zhao Yingdan, who claimed that emissions from the Shanghai CIMC Far East Container Co., Ltd., just 100 meters from her home, had harmed her unborn baby and led her to get an abortion. Tests showed that Zhao’s fetus had abnormalities that could have led to a rare genetic disorder known as cri du chat syndrome, a severe form of mental retardation. The name is French for “cry of the cat,” which describes the “destinctive mewing sound made by infants with the disorder,” according to Wikipedia.
The court found that “the factory was discharging gas containing chemicals like benzene, toluene and dimethylbenzene, and dust emissions were denser than allowed.” But they couldn’t prove that the pollution is what caused the defects to Zhao’s fetus. Thus the court “will issue an order to stop the factory from emitting poisonous waste” but Zhao will receive no compensation. Whether the factory will follow the order remains to be seen — this is China, after all — but a court official said that “the factory has promised the court it will relocate before the end of the year” … to a part of China, we assume, where it can pollute without being bothered.
A 74-year-old neighbor of Zhao attended the court hearing. “The smell from the factory gives us headaches,” she said. “We dare not go out.”