U.S. Water News Online
BEIJING -- A toxic sludge moving down a river in north
China appeared to have slowed after fire trucks pumped out the
pollution and workers raced to build dozens of makeshift dams.
The spill of 60 tons of coal tar into the Dasha river in Shanxi
province earlier had reached Fuping county in neighboring Hebei
province, where 50,000 residents were told not to drink from the
river and to take water from nearby reservoirs and standby wells, the
official Xinhua News Agency said.
Cleanup crews scrambled to build 51 dams to "win time" and absorb
the toxic substance before it reached the Wangkuai Reservoir in
Baoding, a city of about 10 million people, Xinhua said.
A dozen fire engines pumped out polluted water and trucked it away
so it could be treated, Xinhua said, without giving details. Cleanup
workers also dug holes in the ground near the river and diverted
spill into them, it said.
News photos showed a series of the hastily built dams, some no
more than a pile of dirt and rubble shoveled into place by workers.
Parts of the river still flowed over some of the barriers but
appeared to have slowed. In some spots, there were only small pools
of murky water.
Cranes were scooping out squares of cotton batting, sponge, straw
and activated carbon, used to absorb the coal tar, a substance linked
to increased rates of certain types of cancer after prolonged
The spill into the Dasha river occurred when a truck overloaded
with 60 tons of coal tar crashed and dumped its contents into the
water. Measurements showed that levels of phenol, also known as
carbolic acid, were 100 times higher than acceptable levels in some
It was the latest in a series of mishaps to degrade the country's
already polluted waterways. Officials said there have been at least
76 water pollution accidents in the last six months.
In a separate incident, a series of explosions rocked the Longxin
Chemical Plant in the city of Longquan, Zhejiang province, destroying
two factories and threatening to contaminate the Oujiang river, which
empties into the East China Sea, Xinhua reported.
A spring that feeds the Oujiang lies close to the blast site and
authorities trucked in sand and stones to block the spring's uptake
of waste water, Xinhua said.
One person was injured and two people were reported missing after
the blast, it said.
Return to the
U.S. Water News' past archives page
Return to the U.S. Water
Use a comma to separate e-mail addresses:
Hi, I thought you might like to read this article.