China Environmental News Digest

Daily updated Environmental news related to China

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

China toxic spill forces water supplies to be cut

Mon Feb 20, 1:44 AM ET Via Yahoo

A toxic chemical spill in southwest China has disrupted water supplies to 20,000 people since last week, a state newspaper said on Monday, the latest in a series of pollution incidents to hit the country.

A power plant on the upper reaches of the Yuexi River in Sichuan province was to blame for the pollution, which prompted environmental officials to suspend water supplies to Guanyin Town since last Wednesday, the official China Daily said.

Water was being trucked in to residents, but was unable to meet demand, it added.

Tests showed that the river had been polluted with chemicals including fluoride and nitrogen, the newspaper said.

Earlier this month, three tanks at a chemical company in the northwestern province of Shaanxi collapsed, discharging about 2,000 tons of alkaline waste into a river which flows into the Yellow River, China's second-longest.

In one of the worst incidents, water supplies to millions of people in northeastern China were suspended after a blast at a chemical plant in November caused cancer-causing benzene compounds to leak into a major river.

The chief of China's environment watchdog was forced to resign following that spill, which became an international incident as the river flows into Russia.

The Chinese government has promised to improve environmental safeguards and has spent billions of yuan on cleaning up the country's rivers, though experts warn some of it is mis-spent and ineffective.

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