A chromium waste pile, in Mou Ding, Yunnan.

From Greenpeace East Asia:

Unluckily, just like a very large pile of dirt. Their unassuming appearance means dumped piles of chemical waste can go months unnoticed and unchecked in the countryside of China. But this "dirt" is toxic, possibly cancer-causing, and in order to avoid contamination of our waterways and biosphere must be disposed of properly.

Unfortunately that's exactly what didn't happen earlier this year in Yunnan, a southern province of China. Instead, two truck drivers of Yunnan Luliang Chemical Industry dumped multiple loads of chromium-contaminated waste in the hills of Qilin district in Qujing, near the Chachong Reservoir, over a period of three months starting from April. The two men were destined for Guizhou where the waste was to be disposed of at a processing plant. Instead it was left close to the mouth of a reservoir where nearly 3,000 people live nearby. Many of these people are farmers who depend on the water for their livelihood. In June, a light rain hit the area, washing down parts of the waste to the reservoir. 77 cattle died shortly after drinking the contaminated water. The drivers were arrested and the local environmental authority rushed to the dumping site to clean it up.

But this incident only reveals a much bigger problem. The 5,000 tons of chromium waste came from a chemical company that still owns another 140,000 tons of such waste, which is piling up in a poorly maintained site just meters away from the Nanpan River. It's a situation that immediately became a national concern when reported by the local media. Last month a Greenpeace team headed to the area of the 140,000 ton chromium waste pile...

Read more on the Greenpeace East Asia website.