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Chemical dump affects water supply in Shanghai

By Wang Zhenghua  (China Daily)

08:34, January 14, 2013

Residents wait in line for drinking water in Songjiang district, Shanghai, on Thursday. Water pollution, caused by an illegal waste discharge, affected the water supply for 30,000 residents in Jinshan and Songjiang districts. [Liu Xin / for China Daily]

Authorities in Shanghai have been offering emergency water supplies to residents of a southwestern suburb after a discharge of chemical waste into a river required the water to be cut off to about 30,000 people.

Firefighting departments were organized to deliver clean water in fire engines for residents living along the lower reaches of the contaminated river, and three large supermarkets and bottled water suppliers have been asked to shift more products to the affected districts — Jinshan and Songjiang.

Police said they had detained 10 suspects from a local logistics company linked to the illegal discharge of pollutants containing styrene — a chemical hazardous to the intestines, kidneys, and respiratory system if ingested — from a tanker into the river in Jinshan.

Urban areas of Shanghai have remained unaffected so far, said the authorities, but it is estimated it will take two days to resume normal water supplies in the affected areas.

The incident, coming shortly after the major chemical contamination of a river in North China's Shanxi province, has highlighted the country's toughening battle to ensure residents have access to safe drinking water.

Residents in the two districts affected started smelling a strong odor at around 7:40 pm on Thursday with some reporting dizziness or other discomfort.

Inspectors later found that the source of the pollutants came from the river in Jinshan, which contained high levels of styrene. Water supplies from two plants in Maogang township in Songjiang were cut off early on Friday morning as a result, and water plants in nearby regions were also watched closely.

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