Sunday, January 29, 2012

Drinking Water Scare in Chinese City After Industrial Pollution

Authorities in China have swooped into action to monitor drinking water safety more closely after cadmium pollution, caused by a mining firm, has been found downstream of a China river.

Mostly used in industrial effluents, cadmium is a carcinogenic chemical which can lead to cancer. It is a key component in battery production, coatings, electroplating and toys. Exposure can result in fever, pneumonia and kidney failure.

According to the city's environmental protection bureau, cadmium pollutants were detected in the Liujiang river in Liuzhou city of Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region on Thursday afternoon, over 10 days after industrial waste from a local mining company polluted Longjiang, a tributary upstream of the Liujiang River, Xinhua reported.

Situated on Longjiang, the dam is about 60 km from the Liuzhou city with a population of 3.7 million. 

The levels of cadmium at the dam were found five times above the standards.

But, so far the water quality tests, conducted every two hours, showed that the drinking water source at the downstream of the dam had not been contaminated, said Gan Jinglin, Liuzhou's environmental chief.

"The water is still up to national standards and is safe for drinking," said Gan.

Local authorities have warned residents against fetching water from the river's polluted sections.

The government has also commenced searching for alternative water sources, fearing the pollution belt may spread further.

The situation has caused panic buying of bottled water in parts of Liuzhou city.

According to a super market salesperson in the city's downtown area, sales of bottled water have risen over three times in recent days.

"Some people bought ten cardboard boxes of bottled water at a time," the salesperson said, adding that despite the surge in demand the store has ample stocks that there is no immediate threat to supply.

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