The houses built on China’s ’poisoned’ land | Environment | guardian.co.uk
Gao Shengke and Wang Kai have won the prize for Best Investigation atchinadialogue’s and The Guardian’s China Environmental Press Awards - 2013 for their investigation into contaminated earth in Chinese cities. Here is the first of their three-part series of reports.
The excavators are rumbling and dust swirls all about at the second phase of the Kangquan New City construction project in Guanzhuang village, Chaoyang District, outside Beijing’s east fifth ring road.
A 20-metre deep pit has been dug on the site. A foul stench rises from the pile of earth that has been removed. Until now, few people knew about the secret that was buried here.
This plot of land was previously the site of a factory owned by the Ministry of Railways that made anti-corrosive railway sleepers. The plant was in operation for more than 30 years; many kinds of organic pollutants continuously seeped into the topsoil, deeper soil layers, and into the groundwater. Some seven or eight years ago, the factory was relocated and this plot of ground was left unused. In January 2011, the city administration decided to convert the land into a development for affordable housing and it was taken over by the Residential Construction Service Centre for Civil Servants to build low-cost housing for civil servants from all ministries.