China Environmental News Digest

Daily updated Environmental news related to China

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Toxic spill threatens drinking water in southern China

Shanghai December 21. INTERFAX-CHINA - A toxic chemical spill into a river in southern China has contaminated drinking water in a city with more than a million residents, the local government said.

A government-owned lead and zinc smelter apparently dumped cadmium into the Bei River in the city of Yingde in Guandong Province on December 15, according to the government announcement that came Tuesday.

The river feeds into the Pearl River that passes through the major city of Guangzhou.

The local TV station warned Yingde residents last night against drinking the tap water due to the toxic contamination, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Officials were scrambling to dilute the cadmium to drinkable levels by opening reservoirs, as the initial cadmium reading was 10 times above the safety level, the Guandong Province's environmental protection bureau said.

In addition, the governments of Yingde, Shaoguan and Qingyuan were in the process of delivering drinking water to citizens and trying to contain the pollution.

The state-owned smelter, Shaoguan Smelter, is responsible for the spill, the environmental protection bureau said.

The water pollution comes after a huge chemical spill in northern China's Songhua River last month that caused the government to shut off water to residents in the city of Harbin for several days. The toxic spill also moved across the border with Russia and threatened water supplies.

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