(© CNN: China's denim disaster)
"I can see what pollution has done. The water has turned dark and black."
The Pearl River has sustained Chinese civilization for ages, but civilization has turned this river into a dumping ground.
Xintang, the capital of blue denim production in the world. Every year, 200 million pairs of denim is produces here. However, consumers may not realise how polluting denim producion can be.
Greenpeace satellite images shows that the part of the Pearl River alongside of hundreads of denim factories runs black.
"River bank is covered with trash. Most of them are blue denim scraps"
Plain white cotton threads goes into boiling vats of dye, which transform white cotton into dark blue indigo which we all know very well. This process produces tons of waste water everyday. It is a cocktail of dye and bleach.
The factory owner says that most of the wastewater is recycled.
"If we didn't pay attention to the environment, the Communist Party would shut us down.
～Li Zhongquan, Jinxing Dyeing Factory Manager～
However, some of the wastewater is not recycled. In fact, pipes at the edge of factory property pour wastewater directly into the Pearl RIver.
Greenpeace survreyed other pipes in the area and found that all pipes contained heavy metals, organic pollutants and chemicals.
"Heavy metals are neurotoxic, carcinogenic, and they disrupt the endocrine system."
～Dr. Tony Lu, United Family Hospital Guangzhou～
The local goverment set a plan to invest $5 billion in order to implement series of new regulation such as implementation of random factory inspections, and requiring companies to pass tests.
"We all know what is in the pipes. Every factory is supposed to register. But there are so many, so regulation could be difficult."
～Wu Xuewei, Dep.Dir., Guangzhou Bureau of Water Resources～
In this polluted Pearl River, one catches fish with his bare hands, and the other buys it for today's dinner...