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Parents, police clash at smelter

August 18, 2009|Times Wire Reports

Villagers in central China clashed with police outside a lead smelter blamed in the poisoning of more than 600 children, reports said.

Several hundred villagers tore down fences and blocked traffic outside Dongling Lead & Zinc Smelting Co. in Shaanxi province after news of the poisoning emerged last week, state media and villagers said. Fighting between parents and police officers broke out Sunday, and trucks delivering coal to the plant were stoned.

No immediate word on injuries or arrests was available.

At least 615 out of 731 children in two villages near the smelter have tested positive for lead poisoning, which can damage the nervous and reproductive systems and cause high blood pressure, anemia and memory loss.

Tests have found unusually high lead levels in air surrounding the plant, according to the official New China News Agency.

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