BEIJING - China has disciplined officials for a chemical leak that
contaminated a river and cut off drinking water and pledged action against those
responsible for two other environmental disasters, state media reported on
Doctors take a blood sample from a child who is believed to
suffering from lead poisoning from a metal smelting plant, in Hui County
in northwest China's Gansu province Monday Sept. 11, 2006. At least four
children among the hundreds of people sickened by emissions from the lead
smelter are likely to suffer permament brain damage. [AP]
Zhirong, Party boss of Linxiang, in the central province of Hunan, received a
disciplinary warning for initially protecting the polluting plants with special
government documents and then being slack in investigating their problems after
the spill, state radio reported.
Senior managers at the factories have already been detained.
Drinking water to the area was cut for four days in September, after the
factory was discovered discharging cancer-causing arsenide directly into the
Mao Zhibin, acting mayor of Linxiang, was ordered to write a self-criticism,
Vice Mayor Lu Shuhua received an "administrative demerit" and Chen Lin, director
of the city's environmental protection bureau, was removed from his post as
party secretary of the bureau, the report said.
The leak in Linxiang came nearly a year after an explosion at a chemical
plant in northeast China poured toxic benzene compounds into the Songhua River,
the source of drinking water for millions, in one of the country's worst recent
A cabinet meeting chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao on Wednesday agreed to punish
officials responsible for the Songhua spill at PetroChina, which owned the
plant, and at the environmental protection bureau in Jilin, where it was
There were no details on the severity of the punishments and no officials
were named in a report on the meeting carried on the government's official Web
The government has been trying to tighten monitoring of potential
environmental hazards and curb pollution, but has conceded to being stymied by
local officials who are used to being judged on economic growth at any cost.
In a third pollution case, investigators found the local environmental
protection bureau had violated laws in approving the construction of a lead
smelter in the northwestern province of Gansu that left some 2,000 people with
higher-than-normal levels of lead in their blood.
"Those who should be charged will definitely be taken to the judicial
system," state radio quoted an official from the Ministry of Supervision as
Soil was found contaminated by lead for 400 metres (1,300 feet) around the
site, and 260 residents had serious lead poisoning, almost all of them children.