U.S. Water News Online
BEIJING -- Toxic wastewater was flushed untreated into a
river in southern China, prompting the government to cut water
supplies to 28,000 people for at least four days, a local official
and a Chinese newspaper said.
The official China Daily said that a power plant on the upper
reaches of the Yuexi River in Sichuan province was to blame for the
pollution, which prompted environmental officials to suspend water
supplies to the town of Guanyin recently.
A town leader reached by telephone said 28,000 people had been
without water for several days. He said a power plant in nearby
Xinqiao county had discharged untreated wastewater directly into the
Yuexi. The man asked that his name not be printed because he said
town regulations prevent officials from talking to the media.
Fire trucks were bringing clean water to residents but supplies
were short, he said. There were no reports so far of people sickened
by the pollution, he said.
A man who answered the phone at the Xinqiao Power Plant said poor
quality coal may have been partially to blame for the pollution and
that an investigation was underway. The plant had temporarily halted
power generation, said the man, who would only give his surname,
An employee with a local water supply company noticed the river
water had turned yellow, the China Daily said. Tests showed it was
polluted with high levels of fluoride, nitrogen and phenol, also
known as carbolic acid, it said.
The incident follows a spate of spills in recent months, the most
serious being an explosion at chemical plant in November that dumped
chemicals into the Songhua River, the source of drinking water for
tens of millions of people living in northeastern China and Russia.
Local authorities were criticized for reacting too slowly to the
chemical plant explosion and delaying disclosure to the public.
Under new regulations enacted earlier this month, serious
accidents must be reported directly to the Environmental Protection
Agency, known as SEPA, or to the State Council, China's cabinet,
within an hour.
After more than 25 years of breakneck growth, China is in the
midst of an environmental crisis that has continued to worsen as
local authorities fail to enforce regulations meant to counter severe
air and water pollution.
Officials at SEPA and at the Sichuan Environmental Protection
Agency refused to comment on the latest report.
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