Chemical leak contaminates river in China

Last Updated: Sun, Jan 06, 2013 09:40 hrs

Beijing, Jan 6 (IANS) Nearly nine tonnes of a chemical leakage from a plant in China's Shanxi province has ended up in the Zhuozhang river, affecting a downstream city in neighbouring Hebei province, authorities said Sunday.

The toxic chemical called aniline is widely used to manufacture pigments, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals, and can cause serious damage to internal human organs such as the kidneys and liver, China Daily reported.

An initial investigation revealed that a loose drainage valve in the plant, owned by Tianji Coal Chemical Industry Group in the Lucheng city, was to blame for the leakage.

The leak was discovered Dec 31 morning when plant employees conducting a routine check spotted aniline oozing from a broken pipe, a company spokesperson said.

The provincial government said it received a report on the leak Saturday, and that an emergency response had been initiated to plug the leak and clean up the pollutants, Xinhua reported.

Another 30 tonne of spilled aniline has been contained in a nearby disused reservoir, the local emergency response agency said.

Changzhi municipality, which administers Lucheng city, said the leak has not resulted in any casualties so far. But the river's water quality has been affected.

Concentrations of aniline in the river have now decreased to 2.15 mg per litre from the previous level of 72 mg per litre, according to a river monitoring station.

The figure is still very high as the concentration should be less than 0.1 mg per litre, according to national standards.

A large amount of dead fish were noticed in the upper reaches of the river Friday evening, said the emergency water supply headquarters in Hebei.

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