River spill cleanup to last a month
Updated: 2012-02-03 08:04
By Wang Qian and Huang Feifei (China Daily)
Police officers and firemen put bags of aluminum chloride into the Liujiang River to neutralize metal cadmium pollution in the main source of drinking water for residents in Liuzhou, the second largest city in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, on Thursday. Liu Wanqiang / China News Service
Level of cadmium keeps dropping and long-term prevention planned
LIUZHOU, Guangxi/BEIJING-The pollution from a recent toxic spill of cadmium in a river near Liuzhou in South China will be cleaned up within a month, experts said.
Zhang Xiaojian, an expert with the task force handling the emergency, said things have improved. The concentration of cadmium detected at the Nuomitan hydropower station was nine times the safety threshold on Wednesday, but on the following day, it was reduced to six times the acceptable level.
But a long-term monitoring system will be set up to avoid secondary pollution caused by filtered cadmium sinking to the riverbed, Zhang said.
Nuomitan hydropower station is the nearest dam upstream from Liuzhou, which has a population of 3.7 million. The dam can serve as a countermeasure against pollution.
The situation is under control and getting better, said Gan Jinglin, director of the Liuzhou environmental protection bureau, at a news conference on Thursday.
Zhang Jinsong, director of the China Urban Water Association, said Liuzhou tap water plants can purify polluted water with cadmium levels up to eight times the permitted level.
While authorities insisted they are capable of supplying sufficient safe drinking water, fish farms from Liujiang and Liucheng counties in Liuzhou have been banned from selling fish in the contaminated Longjiang River, Xinhua News Agency reported on Thursday.
The two counties are located in the downstream region of the Longjiang River, right before it joins the Liujiang River, which runs through Liuzhou city.
According to statistics from Hechi authorities, more than 40,000 kilograms of fish were found dead from Jan 15 to Feb 2 in the Longjiang River within Hechi, which affected more than 230 households. The local officials have been in the villages to investigate the losses of fishermen.
On Jan 15, alerted by the discovery of hundreds of dead fish in the upstream areas of the Longjiang River, the Hechi environmental protection bureau tested the water and discovered cadmium readings spiking to 80 times the government limit.
"The once-green river turned black around January 10, and many small fish died. In the following days, more fish died, so we reported it to the local environmental protection bureau," Huang Chaoxin, a fisherman living in Lalang township of Hechi, told Xinhua.
The incident not only cut into the fishermen's livelihoods but has also changed their eating habits.
Qin Bin, deputy secretary of the Hechi committee of the Communist Party of China, said in a previous press conference that compensation will be paid to fishermen for their losses after evaluation by the responsible companies.
He Xinxing, mayor of Hechi, publicly apologized for the pollution at a news conference on Wednesday, saying it had "a severe impact" on the lives of the local residents, particularly those living in the downstream areas, including Liuzhou.
Police have detained eight company executives, including three from Jinhe Mining and five from Lithopone Company, and were still chasing four others.
Guangxi has launched a region-wide probe of the industry. It has so far inspected 145 companies and shut down 11.
Xinhua contributed to this story.
(China Daily 02/03/2012 page4)