Seven people have been detained over industrial waste discharges that polluted a south China river and threatened water supplies in a major downstream city, the local government said yesterday.
All seven were chemical plant executives who worked in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, including Jinchengjiang Hongquan Lithopone Material Co Ltd in Hechi City, said Feng Zhennian, a deputy director of Guangxi’s environment protection department. Feng is also spokesman for an emergency response center set up to handle the incident.
He did not identify the seven people or any other suspected polluters.
Cadmium pollutants were first detected in Longjiang River, a tributary upstream of the Liujiang River, on January 15, when cadmium concentration near the Lalang reservoir was 80 times higher than the official limit of 0.005 milligrams per liter, Feng said.
The source of the pollution was reportedly contained on Saturday, as cadmium concentrations at the Lalang reservoir, where the pollution was first detected, had returned to normal.
The pollution belt was now near the downstream Luodong hydropower station and the cadmium concentration levels were still 25 times higher than the official limit, Feng said.
He said the pollutants were still flowing downstream and were close to a major drinking water source for Liujiang, a city with 1.5 million permanent residents in the city proper.
The local environment watchdog has set up 20 surveillance stations along 200 kilometers of the river and more than 210 surveillance workers are at work to monitor water quality.
“The tap water company in Liuzhou has also stepped up surveillance and will strive to provide safe water for the residents,” Feng said. “Judging from the surveillance data, we’re confident the situation is under control and water supplies to Liuzhou will remain safe.”
Efforts are continuing to be made to mitigate the cadmium pollution yesterday.
Environmental protection workers have been adding neutralizers, made from dissolved aluminum chloride, at six locations along the Longjiang River in a bid to dissolve the contaminants.
Dispatched on the pollutants-neutralizing mission on January 21, armed police had dumped a total of 4,650 tons of activated carbon, quicklime and aluminum chloride to the water as of 3pm yesterday, according to Armed Police authorities in Guangxi.
A total of 3,160 members of the Armed Police had helped out in the shipping or pouring in of neutralizers and some 340 others were still busy with the work yesterday.
Cleanup work will be conducted in an area located 6 kilometers downstream from the Luodong hydropower station, where the pollutants were concentrated on Sunday night, as well as another location near the Sancha hydropower station, said Qin Bin, deputy secretary of the Hechi city committee of the Communist Party of China.
“It is a critical time right now, as downstream drinking water safety is in jeopardy,” Hechi Mayor He Xinxing said.
“We will take every measure possible and optimize our strategies to bring down cadmium concentration levels,” the mayor added.
- Seven held in China cadmium spill (bbc.co.uk)
- China Detains Seven People Over Cadmium Spill, Xinhua Says (businessweek.com)
- China cadmium spill threatens city water supplies (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- A Toxic Spill Threatens Drinking Supplies Of 3.2 Million Residents In A Major Chinese City (businessinsider.com)
- Cadmium spill threatens water supply in Liuzhou, China (ctv.ca)
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- Cadmium Pollution Approaches Southern Chinese City, Xinhua Says (businessweek.com)
- China Cadmium Spill Threatens Drinking Water for Millions (scientificamerican.com)
- Cadmium Spill In Chinese River Threatens Water Supply for Over 1 Million People (treehugger.com)
- Cadmium spill threatens water supplies of major Chinese city (guardian.co.uk)
Anhui and Zhejiang have launched an ecological compensation initiative that is the firstwater protection program jointly begun by these provinces. China Daily reports on some good news initiative.
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The neighboring provinces launched a trial project on Sunday that monitors the water quality of theXin’an River, which originates in Huangshan, Anhui, and runs into Zhejiang’s Qiandao Lake, themain source of drinking water for Zhejiang province and a strategic reserve reservoir for theYangtze River Delta.
This is the first time such a program has been put into operation, according to Lie Weiping, headof the bureau for protection of the Xin’an River.
“If the water offered by upper Anhui has a quality higher than the basic standard, Zhejiang shouldcompensate Anhui, and Anhui should pay compensation to Zhejiang if the water quality is lowerthan the standard,” Lie said.
Huangshan and other places in Anhui hesitated to accept new industries in order to protect theenvironment along the Xin’an River, paying a heavy price in terms of slow development withdelayed industrialization and urbanization.
In recent years, Huangshan denied operating permits to more than 40 companies whose investments totaled over 4 billion yuan ($632 million), and it permanently closed polluting factoriesengaged in paper-making and cement production, according to a report released last year by acommittee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the top political advisory body.
Nearly 30 percent of China’s territory is made up of basins of big rivers, which traverse many administrative regions.
Huangshan Mayor Song Guoquan said the mutual compensation mechanism will not only ensurewater quality for the lower regions, but also ease the funding scarcity of the upper province andalleviate the contradiction between economic and social development and environmental protection.
The compensation funds were set up by Anhui and Zhejiang provinces and the central government.
With the 50 million yuan startup fund provided by the central government, the local government ofHuangshan will treat industrial pollution at its sources, improve efforts to clean major water coursesand protect the environment in major villages and towns, said Lu Haining, vice-director of the Huangshan environmental protection bureau.
By 2015, Huangshan will invest more than 40 billion yuan in 521 projects to clean the Xin’an Riverbasin, Lu said.
The Huangshan environmental protection official added that the compensation mechanism haslimitations. “The compensation should not only be directed at pollution treatment costs. It shouldalso cover the cost of the developmental opportunities lost (by the upper province) in the process ofprotecting the environment,” said Lu. “That’s ecological compensation in its true sense.”
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