A FACTORY that produces jeans for US clothing retailers Gap and Levi Strauss is illegally dumping chemical waste in Lesotho, posing a major hazard to children, London's Sunday Times has reported.
The weekly paper said its investigation into pollution in Maseru had found that the plant, operated by Taiwanese firm Nien Hsing, was pouring dark blue effluent into a river used for cooking and bathing.
It also alleged that the firm was also dumping needles, razors and harmful chemicals such as caustic soda at municipal dumps that have attracted child rag-pickers as young as five in search of cloth fragments to sell for fuel.
Many of the children worked up to 10 hours per day and complained of ailments that included breathing difficulties, weeping eyes and skin rashes.
Gap and Levi Strauss have ordered immediate investigations.
Gap, which has a public image of environmental awareness, said it had put the factory on notice to improve and would conduct a thorough environmental assessment in Lesotho in partnership with an independent environmental organisation, while Levi Strauss said it was "disturbed" by the findings. - AFP