Organic Consumers Association

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Toxic Tanneries Forced to Move Pollute New Bangladesh Site

Bangladesh tanneries prepping leather for shoes, belts, wallets and purses are dumping toxic chemicals into a river at a new industrial complex more than a year after the government shut them down for poisoning a different river and using child labor.

"It's killing the river. The color of the water has changed," Abdus Shakur, a local resident who works as a day laborer, told The Associated Press last week. "I have been living here for decades and the condition of the river has changed dramatically over the last year."

Turning cow hides into soft, hair-free leather can be a dirty business, and in the Hazaribagh neighborhood of Dhaka, the former home to more than 150 tanneries, the air a year ago was so noxious with chemicals and rotting hide trimmings that it was repeatedly named one of the most polluted places on earth by environmentalists. The adjacent Buriganga River, a source of drinking water for 180,000 people, was considered poisoned.

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