China Environmental News Digest

Daily updated Environmental news related to China

Monday, December 26, 2005

Toxicity drops in China river pollution spill

AFP Beijing December 25 2005 at 02:13PM- A toxic spill in a south China river is becoming less lethal after officials poured neutralising chemicals into the water, state media said Sunday.

The spill from a state-owned smelting works in Guangdong province on December 15 had threatened water supplies to several cities in the province. Tens of thousands along the Beijiang river in Guangdong lacked drinking water after the smelting works released excessive amounts of cadmium, which can cause neurological disorders and cancer. The Xinhua news agency's Guangdong division said Sunday authorities began pouring iron and alluminum polymer into the upper reaches of the river at the city of Yingde to induce the cadmium to settle at the bottom of the river. By Saturday it had dumped 380 tons of the materials into the water and after testing, found the cadmium level had dropped by 20 percent, Xinhua said. Shoddy maintenance at the smelting works caused the toxic spill and the director of the Shaoguan city smelting works, Zhang Weijian, has been suspended for investigation, the semi-official China News Service said Saturday. According to the news service staff at the factory breached safety rules by using just one day instead of three days to carry out cadmium waste treatment work, causing over 1,000 tons of the toxic discharge to spill into the river. Officials last week had lowered a dam gate and released water from reservoirs upstream in the river to try to slow the flow of the slick or dilute it as it headed towards the metropolis of Guangzhou. Local environmental protection authorities have said the toxic discharge has caused the cadmium level in the river at Shaoguan to surge nearly 10 times safety levels, seriously affecting water quality in the lower reaches. The toxic spill was China's second in as many months after a benzene slick from a factory in northeast China cut tap water to millions of city-dwellers for four days last month. The two spills have focused attention on water pollution in a country where millions still lack safe drinking water and most rivers are polluted by industrial and human waste. State media reports said data collected along the Beijiang river suggested that the density of cadmium has been steadily dropping, but residents living upstream in Yingde city's outlying rural areas said Friday their tap water supply has been cut. In some villages tens of thousands of residents were relying on water supplied by fire engines, residents told AFP. Technorati Tags: , ,

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