The area is covered with thick, red dust. It is not very easy to breathe, and the inhabitants suffer from cancer more and more often. This is not an environmental catastrophe, but a Chinese industry. In Serbia.
It would seem that one of the world’s greatest and most powerful powers has finally realized that if it goes on like this, there won’t be much of a world to be conquered. Even recently, China, one of the largest polluters on the planet, was ready to suspend the industry for some time, just to meet the new emission standards.
Clearly, however, not everyone in the Chinese government is convinced that the short-term gains are not worth the long-term losses. At least, this is the result of a Reuters report describing the situation of residents living near a certain Serbian steelworks. I mean, once Serbian. Today it is state property of China. And which covers the surrounding towns with thick, red, carcinogenic dust.
In less than a decade, the number of people in the Smedrev area suffering from cancer has quadrupled. The area is inhabited by about 100 thousand. people. In 2011, 1,738 inhabitants suffered from cancer. In 2019, this number increased to 6,866 patients. It is also difficult to talk about the comfort of everyday life. Residents complain that they have to dry their laundry at home and clean cars with vinegar. Red dust gets everywhere and is not easy to get rid of.
The nearby steel plant is to blame, which the government concern Hesteel bought from Serbia five years ago for EUR 46 million. The owner declares that he has invested as much as EUR 300 million in technologies reducing pollution of the surrounding environment. He adds, however, that the allegations that the smelter affects cancer are unfounded. According to a spokesman for Hesteel, it may as well be a consequence of the armed conflict in Kosovo in 1999. Although it is not clear how.
Unfortunately, Hesteel did not respond to the analysis of the red dust content, which showed a high concentration of heavy metals. It is also unclear why the Serbian authorities are not responding – in the same year they ordered a Chinese copper mine located in the country to suspend operations until environmental standards were met – which it has done and is working again. Some suspect corruption by Serbian authorities, but there is no evidence of this.
Fortunately, the media all over the world are writing about the case, not only in Serbian newspapers. This gives hope that the authorities of individual countries will begin to take a closer look at Chinese foreign investments. Especially that this powerful superpower has been making multi-billion dollar investments for years, ensuring its even greater global expansion. There is definitely something to check.