After the recent In These Times piece on Guiyu, a center for the recovery of valuable substances in old electronics, comes an Associated Press report that does some more digging on the noxious conditions for workers there. The article, by Christopher Bodeen, includes some good sourcing and a short mention of reporting conditions for some visitors:
Those who control the business in Guiyu are hostile to outside scrutiny. Reporters visiting the area with a Greenpeace volunteer were trailed by tough-looking youths who notified local police, leading to a six-hour detention for questioning.
Government departments from the provincial to township levels refused to answer questions. The central government’s Environmental Protection Agency did not reply to faxed questions.
The article also reminds us that China produces its own e-waste—some 1 million tons a year, according to Greenpeace China. It also quotes a Qingdao businessman who says he is not breaking even with a business that recycles electronics safely, and it points out that many people in Shanghai prefer “guerrilla recyclers” who offer good prices, despite the city’s opening of a dedicated e-waste recycling center. Anecdotal evidence from this central Beijing hutong suggests the same type of recycling is common here.
(If the detained reporter story sounds a bit familiar, that’s because it’s not an isolated incident. In one high-profile case, New York Times reporter David Barboza publicly told the story of being detained by a factory staff. And in his case, even the police were not able to arrange for his immediate release.)
h/t to my mom for forwarding the story.