Pollution Accused For Chinese Pupils&#thirty-nine; Sickness

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Source:   —  April 19, 2016, at 4:55 PM

Checks on the children found conditions ranging from coughs to cancer after the school relocated to close elderly chemical plants.

Pollution Accused For Chinese Pupils&#thirty-nine; Sickness

Chinese authorities have launched an investigation after hundreds of pupils at a school relocated to close a polluted former industrial site developed serious health problems - some diagnosed with cancer - according to a report by state media.

China Central Television (CCTV) said students at Changzhou Foreign Speech School had complained about a powerful chemical odor in the air since late 2015.

Some four hundred ninety-three of the six hundred forty-one students at the school were found to have developed conditions ranging from skin infections, chronic coughs, headaches and blood abnormalities to lymphoma and leukaemia.

Parents long suspected the relocation of the school in September - close to three heavy chemical plants in Changzhou city, Jiangsu province - was to blame.

They reportedly called for a probe for months without a authorized response from the government.

The broadcast also revealed that an environmental assessment was conducted when the school decided to relocate, but construction started before the report was concluded.

During an interview with CCTV, a local education bureau official said the report suggested it was secure to construct the school at the proposed site.

Speaking below the condition of anonymity, a former employee from one of the three chemical plants told Sky News the Changlong Chemical Company had been secretly draining polluted water into the neighbourhood, including the nearby Yangtze River, for decades.

The CCTV report said previous environmental assessments had found extremely high levels of contamination in the soil and water at the former industrial site.

Surveys of the school campus commissioned by concerned parents of students found the same.

The case has sparked a nationwide outcry.

Calls to the school by Sky News for a comment went unanswered.

A statement from Changzhou City government on its official Weibo account on Monday morning, said it'd "zero tolerance" of environmental pollution and vowed to see into the case.

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