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18 Apr 2017

Justin Kenny & Adam Matthews, PBS News Hour

Bangladesh cuts off electricity supply, other utilities of leather producers in Hazaribagh due to environmental concerns

"Bangladesh cuts power to leather district after years of environmental violations", 11 Apr 2017

After more than 15 years of ignored high court rulings and inaction, the government in Bangladesh moved against more than 100 tanneries...by cutting off the leather producers’ electricity and other utilities in the capital’s Hazaribagh neighborhood.

Tanneries in that district were featured in a...PBS NewsHour/Pulitzer Crisis for Crisis Reporting report, “Toxic Business – Inside the Tanneries of Bangladesh.” Journalists Justin Kenny, Larry C. Price and Adam Matthews visited Hazaribagh and found a densely packed residential neighborhood filled with rotting animal hides, garbage, human waste, and untreated tannery wastewater being pumped into neighborhood waterways (you can watch the full report here).

Inside some of the tanneries, the team found children...working barefoot as they manned machinery and handled animal hides dripping with toxic chemicals. The majority of the workers inside the tanneries visited wore no footwear, gloves, masks or respirators, despite exposure to sulfuric acid...chromium (including one form that has been identified as a carcinogen associated with lung, nasal and sinus cancer) and sodium sulfide (corrosive to the eyes, skin and respiratory tract), among other harmful substances...

The water, gas and electricity cut-offs mark the most significant action taken by Bangladesh’s government since the High Court began ruling against the Hazaribagh tanneries in July of 2001. The judicial body has ruled over the past several years that the tanneries must treat their wastewater, shut down operations in Hazaribagh and relocate to an industrial park on the outskirts of Dhaka…