China Environmental News Digest

Daily updated Environmental news related to China

Friday, February 24, 2006

Chinese winemaker dumps waste in river, triggering new pollution scare

Written by AP
Thursday, 23 February 2006
BEIJING (AP) _ A winemaker caused a public health scare when it dumped waste from its wine production into a river in northeastern China, three months after the area suffered a massive chemical spill, a news report said Thursday.

Officials in Mudanjiang, a city in Heilongjiang province, were alarmed after finding a flaky substance blocking an inlet of a water plant that supplies water to 80 percent of the city's 80,000 population, the official China Daily newspaper said.

An investigation revealed the substance was not chemical pollution but lees _ dead yeast cells, grape seeds and skins leftover after making wine _ dumped into the Hailang River by the Linhai Xueyuan Food Company Ltd., the paper said. The Hailang feeds into the water plant.

Warm weather had caused microorganisms in the lees to multiply, worsening the pollution, the paper said.

Officials claim the microorganisms are harmless but have used purifiers and chlorine to clean the water as a precaution, it said.

The winemaker has been ordered to suspend its operations, the paper said. The report did not say whether it would face fines or other penalties.

In November, a spill of benzene into the nearby Songhua River forced authorities to cut water supplies to millions in Jilin, Heilongjiang, and Russia. The incident triggered a nationwide crackdown on industrial polluters.

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