The State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) has finally found the culprit behind blood poisoning that has caused 179 villagers to be hospitalized in Northwest China’s Gansu Province.

The lead smelter in the vicinity of the victimized village in Huixian county has had its production license revoked, and the SEPA has promised that the culprit and the local watchdog will both be punished.

Further investigations will be conducted on the contaminated soil around the plant, and the Ministry of Health has joined hands with the local health department in treating the poisoned villagers.

What has happened to this plant and the villagers is a repetition of the mode of economic growth at the expense of the environment in most parts of the eastern region.

This suggests that the development of the west, at least in some places, is facing the same imperative choice between the environment and economic growth.

The too-painful lesson is that the villagers and decision-makers were too blinded by immediate gains to have a far-reaching vision about the impact of environmental pollution.

A local official was quoted as saying that most of the industrial projects attracted to the county have environmental problems. It was almost impossible to lure high-tech projects to such a poor county.

It seems that those poor localities in the west must choose between a clean environment and economic growth. Do they have another way out? We need an answer to this question for the development of the western region.

Clean environment or economic growth