22 February 2018

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12/22/2005 CHINA

Cadmium spill in the Beijiang River leaves millions of people without water

A state-owned smelting plant releases a toxic slick. The river supplies water to big cities and millions of people in Guangdong province. The accident occurred last week but was revealed only yesterday.

Yingde (AsiaNews/SCMP) – A state of emergency has been declared in the city of Yingde, in Guangdong. Residents are without drinking water because the Beijiang River has ten times the allowed concentration of cadmium after a state-owned smelting plant released cadmium waste into the river in Shaoguan Country six days ago.

The Beijiang River supplies water to big cities and millions of people in Guangdong province, including the cities of Yingde, Qingyuan, Foshan and the capital Guangzhou.

In Yingde, workers are racing against time to install a 1.4 kilometre pipeline to bring fresh water from other places to about 100,000 residents.

Serious exposure to cadmium can cause diarrhoea, stomach pains, severe vomiting, reproductive failure, and damage to the central nervous and immune systems.

Local residents are angry for not being told right away. "We were told last Friday not to drink tap water but they never explained why," said Guo Baonian, a resident of Wanfu, one of the most affected towns near Yingde.

The slick was expected to reach Yingde today, but some small towns north of the city have already been affected where water supplies were cut off without explanation.

The environmental disaster in the Songhua River is still fresh in people's minds and there is widespread fear that the authorities are withholding information, releasing it too late.

"[W]ater flow is very slow. The slick hasn't reached any major cities yet," said provincial government spokesman Luo Zhanhuai.

The authorities hope the cadmium slick will be diluted in the river and have built up water levels in reservoirs.

Luo said water quality in some sections of the Beijiang has already returned to normal.

The smelting works responsible for the incident have halted operations but have not yet offered an explanation for the cadmium spill. (PB)

See also

07/12/2005 CHINA
Sacked official "found dead" after Jilin blast

The city's vice-mayor, who was responsible for environmental protection, "was found dead yesterday". He was one of three officials sacked in the wake of the explosion at the plant and the pollution of the Songhua River. Meanwhile, the toxic benzene slick is working its way towards Russia, which has charged: "Only scarce attention is paid the environment in China".

16/06/2006 CHINA
Toxic coal tar threatens water supply of 10 million people in Shanxi
Road accident causes spill; 60 tonnes of toxic coal tar accidentally dumped into a river. Water reservoir that serves city of Baoding is threatened. Chemical factory explosions in Zhejiang threaten spring that feeds Oujiang River.

12/05/2005 CHINA
Pearl River pollution a serious concern
Water treatment plants are built only in cities, whilst farmers must put up with polluted water. Official reports indicate that the Pearl River dumps more 133,000 tonnes of waste into the sea.

27/07/2010 CHINA
Lead poisons the blood of 84 children in Yunnan
Precious metals mining and smelting cause air, soil and water pollution. However, as much as Beijing might slam pollution, it does precious little to contain it.

29/07/2010 CHINA
Toxic chemical into the Songhua River leads to environmental emergency
In Jilin, floods wash 3,000 barrels of a toxic chemical compound into a river, causing long moments of fear. Alarm ends a day later. In Nanjing, a propylene pipeline explodes during building demolitions, kills and injures dozens. Heavy rains continue. Floods cause almost a thousand deaths this year.

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