A Foxconn assembly line (photo:

The WSJ reports that authorities in China are investigating claims that two of Apple’s suppliers – Foxconn and UniMicron – are releasing water polluted by heavy metals into local rivers.

The probe follows accusations late last week by Chinese environmental activist Ma Jun and a group of five nonprofit organizations […] The allegations cast a spotlight on this industrial area roughly 40 miles west of Shanghai that has long supplied the global electronics industry. They come as China’s leaders and public are growing increasingly concerned about pollutants in China’s soil, air and water.

The reports follow recent allegations about working conditions at another Apple supplier, Pegatron.

China does not have the best reputation when it comes to pollution, with lax regulation poorly enforced, but the specific allegations here appear rather vague.

Investigating the allegations could take weeks, and determining the source of any pollutants could be difficult. In interviews, local residents described worsening pollution over the past decade, with more electronics factories moving in and the many rivers and canals in the Kunshan area becoming cloudy and fetid.

Apple says that it does not tolerate environmental violations and carries out regular audits of its suppliers.

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