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Chemical spills into river in Shaanxi
By Sun Xiaohua (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-02-14 06:09

A spill at a chemical plant in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province has led to the leakage of 2,000 tons of alkaline waste into a river.

The accident at Shaanxi Jintai Chlorine and Alkaline Chemical Co Ltd occurred in Mizhi County on February 4, when three of its four processing tanks collapsed, and the chemicals contaminated the Wuding River.

The company tried to hide the incident from local environmental protection officials but residents reported the matter to officials on February 5.

The water intake at the lower reaches of the river was not stopped since the pollution level did not reach unsafe levels, said Hao Yanwei, director of the provincial environmental bureau.

Hao said the company had long posed an environmental threat for which it had been warned twice recently.

But according to current rules, "as a provincial-level bureau, we could only fine it 200,000 yuan (US$25,000)," the director said.

"For a company with an investment of 1.3 billion yuan (US$160 million), it is not much."

The plant has been shut down after the incident.

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