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China: Ravaged Rivers

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China:Ravaged Rivers

CHINA: Ravaged Rivers

by Jane Spencer, Wall Street Journal
August 22nd, 2007

Last summer, Chinese government investigators crawled through a hole in the concrete wall that surrounds the Fuan Textiles mill in southern China and launched a surprise inspection of the plant. What they found caused alarm at dozens of American retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Lands' End Inc. and Nike Inc., that use the company's fabric in their clothes.

Villagers had complained that the factory, majority owned by Hong Kong-based Fountain Set Holdings Ltd., had turned their river water dark red. Authorities discovered a pipe buried underneath the factory floor that was dumping roughly 22,000 tons of water contaminated from its dyeing operations each day into a nearby river, according to local environmental-protection officials.

In the more than two decades since international companies began turning to Chinese factories to churn out the cheap T-shirts, jeans and sneakers th…