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River pollution level safe but rising

By Wang Qian and Huang Feifei (China Daily)

08:45, January 30, 2012

Officers with the Liuzhou brigade of the Armed Police Force in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region on Sunday pour polyaluminium chloride into pools before using it to dilute the cadmium in Longjiang River. (Xinhua)

NANNING/BEIJING - Cadmium pollution in the upper Longjiang River has entered the water conservation area in Liujiang River, pushing the cadmium level close to the highest permitted level.

It is not known when contamination levels will peak, but the water supply in Liuzhou will be safe for the next four days, Gan Jinglin, director of the Liuzhou environmental protection bureau, told Xinhua News Agency on Sunday.

Gan said the local water supplier was able to purify water with a cadmium level of 0.01 milligram per liter, about twice the national safety standard.

If the level increases, Liuzhou would have to use 35,000 tons of underground water reserves.

Cadmium is a highly toxic heavy metal used in batteries, electroplating and industrial paints. Exposure can lead to liver and kidney damage that can be fatal.

As of Saturday, no cases of cadmium poisoning had been reported in Liuzhou.

On Jan 15, alerted by the discovery of hundreds of dead fish in upper Longjiang River, Hechi environmental protection bureau tested the water and discovered cadmium levels higher than the permitted safety level.

Hechi government immediately suspended all the seven factories in the area that use the heavy metal and on Jan 25 investigators targeted Guangxi Jinhe Mining Co as the primary suspect for illegally discharging cadmium.

More than 60 percent of the cadmium content in Longjiang River in Hechi, previously reported as five times higher than the restricted level, has been diluted and absorbed, according to a statement released by the Hechi government.

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