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People's Daily Online>>China Society

River pollution level safe but rising (2)

By Wang Qian and Huang Feifei (China Daily)

08:47, January 30, 2012

About 500 million cubic meters of water at the Honghua Hydropower Station on the Liujiang River is expected to substantially dilute the pollutants to within the restricted level downstream of the station.

On Jan 18, Hechi government had reported the cadmium level at Luodong Hydropower Station on the river's lower reaches was 0.0247 milligrams per liter, three times higher than the maximum safety limit.

The pollution was reported on the front page of the Liuzhou Daily on Jan 22, triggering public panic over water storage. But on Saturday Liuzhou government calmed most residents, declaring the tap water safe and stating that 24 hours' notice would be given before water supply controls were introduced.

Authorities warned local residents not to drink the water from the contaminated river and ordered dams to increase their water discharge to dilute the cadmium. They also dosed the river with thousands of tons of dissolved aluminum chloride and lime in an attempt to neutralize the contamination, while wells are being dug to provide alternative water sources .

These measures seem to have calmed public fears.

"I went to the supermarket this afternoon (Sunday) and it is full of bottled water. People are not so worried now," said Ken Fletcher, a 57-year-old British man who has lived in Liuzhou for 13 years.

He is updating people in Liuzhou on developments through his blog.

He claimed on the blog that the public was only informed about the pollution two weeks after it was first detected.

Since Liujiang River flows into the Pearl River, people in Hong Kong and Macao are also worried about the safety of their water supply.

Xu Zhencheng, deputy director of the South China Environmental Science Institute under the Ministry of Environmental Protection, told Xinhua that no contamination had been spotted in the downstream Qianjiang, Xunjiang and Xijiang rivers, a trunk of the Pearl River and the major water source for Guangdong province, Hong Kong and Macao.

Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, told China Daily the pollution was a warning for Hechi, one of the country's most important mineral producers, to strengthen supervision of the industry.

"Lack of proper monitoring in developing mines will pose threats to local people's health and damage the environment," Ma said.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

【1】 【2】

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