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07.11.2014
Lead furnace slag has contaminated Haina’s soil, water and food supplies leaving the population of Haina with one of the highest levels of lead poisoning in the world. IA coalition including government, academics and NGOs came together to design and fund a cleanup project—the first of its kind in the country. Improper treatment and disposal of chemicals lead to irreversible environmental and health impacts.
Infortunately, neurodevelopment damages that have occurred among the community’s children in Haina may be permanent. Paraiso de Dios is a community located in the municipality of Haina, 7 kilometers due west of the capital, Santo Domingo and just west of the bridge crossing the Haina River. With these high levels of lead in the community, action needed to be taken to remove the contaminated material and educate the community on the health risks of lead.
Inhaling dust: During dry months, soil causes airborne dust pollution that affects a large area. Absorbing dust through skin or mouth: Soil easily generates dust that is ingested through normal childhood hand-to-mouth activity.
Drinking contaminated water: In time, lead can migrate and contaminate subsurface and surface water supplies. Eating contaminated food: Contaminated soil generates dust that accumulates on locally grown fruits and vegetables.
Terragraphics Environmental Engineering, in partnership with Blacksmith Institute, designed an intervention for the site with an approximate timeline of two years. In 2007, Blacksmith Institute led the formation of a stakeholder group, meeting with possible funders and conducting community outreach and education programs.
Ministry of Environment in the Dominican Republic, Blacksmith Institute, the Inter-American Development Bank, University of Santo Domingo, TerraGraphics Environmental Engineering, Inc., Hunter College, City University of New York.
Recycled lead is a valuable commodity for many people in the developing world, making therecovery of car batteries (known as used lead-acid batteries or ULAB) a viable and profitablebusiness. Improper recycling of used car batteries occurs in every city in the developing world as part of a complicated cycle where batteries are sold by major firms internationally, recovered in smallscale local operations, and often recycled back to the large manufacturers.
As urban centers in developing countries become more populated, the confluence of increasedcar ownership and high unemployment rates has led to a pandemic of informal used car battery collection and melting operations.


In communities such as Haina where brain damage has already occurred among children, thatdisability is permanent and requires intensive social support for the families of those children.
Nissan and Sumitomo Corporation commenced joint studies to initiate a business venture to "Reuse, Resell, Refabricate and Recycle" lithium-ion batteries previously used in electric vehicles. As consumers increasingly move to EV, demand for second-life batteries is expected to grow, as the supply of reusable batteries from EV will also rise. For Nissan, it will ensure high residual values for EV batteries and support the company's ongoing commitment to reducing the environmental impact from automobiles. For this very reason, the Nissan Zero-Emission Website provides additional information which has not been covered in press releases. International communities must pay attention to the full life-cycle of these toxic materials. Therefore, a significant amount of social support is needed to help impoverished families deal with these life-long disabilities. A community near an abandoned lead smelter, over 90 percent of Haina’s residents were found to have elevated blood lead levels. Empty battery casings, large piles of excavated lead slag, and other debris litter the facility.
Automobile usage, construction activities, and othereveryday activities further generate airborne dust, which enters the respiratory system as well as the bloodstream. The stakeholder group consisted of The Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources, the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, MetaloXsa, and the community, among others.
Over 6000 cubic meters of principal threat materials were removed from the community and transported to an industrial site for storage in an environmentally sound, monitored pit for processing at a later date. However, in many developing countries and some in rapid transition, recycling of carbatteries is done improperly and informally. As a result, lead contaminated compounds are released into the local environment in critical quantities. In many cases, informal battery melting is a subsistence activity - done in homes and common areas. For Sumitomo, second-life batteries will augment a wide range of its existing businesses, such as raw materials supply, car leasing, logistics and recycling.


In 2000, the Dominican Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources identified Haina as a national hotspot of significant concern. The group met regularly to discuss project progress and build consensus on appropriate intervention and remediation activities. In conjunction with the Ministry of Environment, local crews and contractors were hired and trained, building capacity within the Dominican Republic to perform a hazardous waste removal operation - the first of its kind for the country. Batteries are often broken open by hand, and thebattery acid poured into the soil where it contaminates the groundwater and surrounding area. The lack of awareness of the dangers of lead combined with a lack of viable economic alternatives has led to the systemic poisoning of communities throughout the world. According to the United Nations, the population of Haina is reported to have the highest level of lead contamination in the world. In the first year, Blacksmith Institute consistently held community education days to encourage community members to adopt appropriate safeguards to mitigate their lead exposure.
In addition to removing waste from the formal industrial site, community walkways and backyards were also excavated and backfilled with clean sand and soil. Follow-up screening of lead-poisoned children near an auto battery recycling plant, Haina, Dominican Republic.
There are a few smaller dilapidated building shells and the remnants of a concrete rotary kiln support.
Blacksmith Institute will continue to monitor the blood lead levels of the children in the community. Paraiso de Dios is very hilly and rainwater runoff from this site travels east and south through a highly populated residential neighborhood to the Haina River and then drains into the Bay of Haina.



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