updated 12:05 pm EDT, Mon August 5, 2013
Suppliers dumping contaminated water, groups charge
Foxconn and UniMicron -- two key suppliers to Apple and other high-tech companies -- are being investigated by Chinese authorities over complaints of local rivers being polluted with heavy metals. The issue was brought to the attention of the Chinese government late last week, after allegations were made public by environmental activist Ma Jun and a group of five non-profit organizations. In particular the allegations deal with the town of Kunshan, roughly 40 miles west of Shanghai, where residents say pollution has been worsening over the past decade.
During that time, an increasing number of electronics factories have moved in. Rivers and canals have become cloudier and smellier, presumably because of waste chemicals from manufacturing. Until recently the Chinese government largely turned a blind eye; both the public and some politicians, however, are now devoting more attention to environmental issues.
An investigation of Foxconn and UniMicron is expected to take weeks, owing partly to the difficulty of tracking down the sources of pollutants. In the meantime, another Apple supplier -- Pegatron -- is likewise accused of dumping contaminants into local water supplies.