Police find suspect company behind river contamination

 

Photo taken on July 7, 2013 shows a polluted section of the Hejiang River in Hezhou, south China’s

Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Water in a 110-km-long waterway of the Hejiang River has

been tainted by pollution. According to the publicity department of Fengkai County in downstream

of the Hejiang River in Guangxi’s neighboring Guangdong Province, dead fish were found in a

section of the river in the County around 6 a.m. on July 1 after hazardous substances had been

detected upstream in Guangxi.    Photo by Lu Bo’an

 

 

Police find suspect company

behind river contamination

 

By Wen Ping, Zhang Ying and  Dong

 

Police in south China believe they have located the source of toxic waste water that was discharged into a local river.

The source of the contaminants is believed to be the Huiwei Ore-Processing Company, which is situated on the upper reaches of the Hejiang River in the city of Hezhou in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, according to initial police investigation.

Police found that the plant, which passed an environmental assessment in February 2008, had been illegally producing indium, a toxic rare metal used in alloys, electronics and electroplating.

Li Weizhang, director of the Public Security Bureau of Hezhou, said the company’s indium production line was illegally installed. All processing materials were purchased from elsewhere and contained highly toxic thallium.

Senior engineer Wang Zhenxing, a member of an investigation panel from the South China Environmental Protection Supervision Center under the Ministry of Environmental Protection, said the company is suspected of changing its production process without authorization and discharging toxic waste water directly into the ground.

“When it rains, the toxic waste water flows into the nearby Haodong River, which then feeds into the Hejiang River,” said Wang.

The company’s head, a man surnamed Gong, has been placed under police custody.

A dam is being built on the Haodong River to prevent contaminated water from reaching the Hejiang River which runs across the autonomous region.

Once the dam is built, the contaminated water will be trapped, allowing local authorities to use a coagulating agent to reduce the concentration of pollutants in the water.

Contamination on the Hemianshi Reservoir, which is located on the Hejiang River, is less serious, so no coagulating agents are needed, experts said.

The pollution was first detected on Saturday, when authorities in Fengkai County in neighboring Guangdong Province said a local river had been tainted by upstream pollution.

Dead fish have been seen floating on the Hejiang River since July 1. Officials have warned local tap water plants and residents living on the lower reaches of the river to avoid drinking water or consuming products derived from the river.

Pollutants discharged from upstream will eventually flow into the Pearl River, a major water source in south China.

Local environmental authorities said Monday afternoon that rivers in the autonomous region have been vulnerable to environmental pollution due to the heavy presence of industrial activity, such as mining.

In January 2012, industrial effluents containing cadmium that were discharged by a mining company polluted the Longjiang River in Guangxi. Since then, local authorities have created a campaign to weed out mining companies that fail to comply with environmental standards.

During the campaign, 79 companies in Hezhou were found to have compliance issues, said Yang Zhongxiong, deputy director of the Bureau of Environmental Protection of Hezhou.

The city once thrived on mining activity, but when local mining resources were nearly exhausted in 2002, many major mining companies went bankrupt.

However, some small-scale miners tucked into the mountainous region have continued mining with insufficient oversight by local environmental authorities, posing the risk of toxic leaks in rivers that converge with downstream water sources in south China, according to Lei Shaohua, director of the Land Resources Bureau of Hezhou. 

 

 

 

Mayor apologizes for

S China river pollution

By Wang Wen and Zhang Ying

 

The mayor of Hezhou city in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on Tuesday of July 9 apologized to residents for a river pollution case in a public statement.

Bai Xi said in the written apology that loopholes in his government’s environmental protection and management work have led to river contamination.

He said he and his government felt sorry that the river pollution not only does harm to the city’s reputation, but also causes losses and inconvenience for local residents.

Bai added that he has also apologized to residents whose lives were affected by the polluted river in neighboring cities and counties.

The pollution was discovered after local authorities in Fengkai County in Guangdong Province, which neighbors Guangxi, said on Saturday that water in a section of the Hejiang River had been tainted by upstream pollution.

The county warned local tap water plants and residents living in the lower reaches of the Hejiang and Xijiang rivers to avoid drinking water or consuming products derived from the river.

Cadmium and thallium levels at a reservoir located on the river were four times and 1.3 times the recommended level, respectively, as of Monday, according to Yang Zhongxiong, vice head of Hezhou’s environmental protection bureau.

The Hejiang River winds across Guangxi before emptying into the Xijiang River in Guangdong. Xijiang is a major waterway in Guangdong.

A mining company in the city of Hezhou in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region is believed to have used illegal production processes that resulted in excessive thallium and cadmium pollution in the Hejiang River, the Hezhou municipal government said in a press release on Monday.

The company’s head, a man surnamed Gong, has been taken into police custody, said Li Weizhang, vice mayor of Hezhou.

Gong is suspected of adding indium production facilities to his iron ore processing plant without approval.

Indium refinement produces effluents that contain thallium and cadmium, both of which are toxic.  

 

 

 

Five officials suspended

after S China river pollution

 

By Lu Bo’an and Lü Dong

 

Five officials have been suspended after a river was polluted because of illegal sewage discharge in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, local authorities said Wednesday of July 10.  Zhou Shengning, deputy director of the administration committee of Pinggui Administrative District of Hezhou City and four other local officials were suspended from their posts for failure to prevent contamination in Hejiang River, said the municipal committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) of Hezhou City.

The pollution was first detected on Saturday, when authorities in Fengkai County in neighboring Guangdong Province said a local river had been tainted by upstream pollution.

Police traced the source of the pollution to an ore-processing company located on the upper reaches of the Hejiang River in Hezhou.

The polluter, Huiwei Ore-processing Company, had been illegally producing indium and discharging effluents that contained toxic cadmium and thallium near a river, a police investigation showed.

Cadmium and thallium were tested to have reached more than 5.6 times the recommended level in the river near the polluter, local environmental authorities said Tuesday.

A campaign launched last year across the autonomous region following a cadmium pollution case found 79 companies failed to comply with local environmental standards, said Yang Zhongxiong, deputy director of the Bureau of Environmental Protection of Hezhou.

However, insufficient oversight of mining activities carried out by small-scale miners tucked in the mountainous region pose risks of toxic leaks in rivers that converge with downstream water sources in south China, according to Lei Shaohua, director of the Land Resources Bureau of Hezhou.

 

 

 

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