The smelter scandal is starting to echo last year’s melamine-tainted infant formula in that it is spreading out of control. A third plant within a month is being closed because children living near it are falling ill. In this case it is a manganese smelter in Wenping in Hunan. More than 1,300 local children are suffering from lead poisoning. Two executives from the plant have been detained, Xinhua reports, though its general manager seems to have fled.
State media say the plant has been running for more than three months without environmental approvals. A kindergarten, primary school and middle school are within 500 metres of the smelter. As with the Dongling smelter in Shaanxi, parents in Wenping have been staging violent protests, China Daily reports, blocking roads and upending a police car. Meanwhile South China Morning Post reports that another toxic smelter in Hunan has also been closed for causing lead poisoning.