U.S. Water News Online
BEIJING -- Waste water discharged from a chemical factory
has polluted a river in southern China and affected the drinking
water of 40,000 villagers living along its banks, state media and a
local official said.
A five-mile stretch of the Sancha River in Guangdong province has
been tainted by the factory which "illegally discharged polluted
water and caused the incident," the official Xinhua News Agency said.
It did not give any details on what kind of chemicals were
involved but said dead fish and shrimp have been found in the water.
"There was a very strong smell in the morning. The water looks
murky," the head of Changqi town, where 40,000 people from seven
villages have been warned against drinking from the river, said in a
telephone interview. He refused to give his name, as is customary
with Chinese officials.
The factory is located in Huazhou, a city upstream from Changqi.
Xinhua did not release its name.
The town head said the pollution had made a few people ill but
none needed to be hospitalized and all had recovered. Some livestock
and poultry also died, he said.
Villagers have been told not to drink river water, eat dead fish
or use river water for irrigation, he said.
Environmental officials are taking water samples everyday for
testing, he said.
"Now the smell is not so strong," he said. "We can't predict when
things will go back to normal."
One villager who gave only her surname, Hong, said she had been
drinking well water since the local government posted notices about
Xinhua said government officials in Wuchuan, which oversees
Changqi, have taken emergency measures to prevent the dead fish and
shrimp from being sold at markets.
Most of China's canals, rivers and lakes are severely tainted by
industrial, agricultural and household pollution. Only about a third
of the 3.7 billion tons of waste water discharged by Chinese cities
each year is treated.
Earlier this month, the country's chief environmental regulator
said China has suffered 76 environmental accidents -- or one every
two days -- since a toxic river spill last year in the northeast.
The Nov. 13 chemical spill forced the city of Harbin, a major
industrial center, to shut off water supplies to 3.8 million people
for five days, and sent toxins flowing into Russia, straining
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