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39 punished over N China chemical leak


20:15, February 20, 2013

TAIYUAN, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- Thirty-nine people have been punished after a chemical leak contaminated a river in north China's Shanxi Province last month, a working group that is responsible for addressing the incident said Wednesday.

An investigation by the working group showed that the Tianji Coal Chemical Industry Group, which is responsible for the leak, and some local government departments are to blame for the serious contamination.

Zhao Junyi, an official with the city's environmental monitoring department, Huangpu Shouyi, director of the environmental protection department of Tianji and other three people have been transferred to judicial organs.

Twenty-four managers with the company who were responsible for supervision have been given Communist Party of China (CPC) and administrative disciplinary sanctions.

Nine local officials, including Pan Xianzhang, vice mayor of Changzhi, Shen Xufeng, director of the Changzhi Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau and Yang Fujin, the director of Changzhi Municipal Work Safety Supervision Bureau, have also received CPC and administrative disciplinary sanctions. Shen and Yang were removed from their posts.

In addition, Zhang Bao, mayor of Changzhi, has also been removed from his post as a result of the contamination.

Meanwhile, the investigation revealed that the immediate cause of the leak should be attributed to a poor-quality metal hose that was made by a Beijing-based company in a chemical plant owned by the Tianji Coal Chemical Industry Group.

According to previous reports, an initial investigation had revealed that a loose drainage valve in the plant was to blame for the leak.

The Dec. 31 leak of about nine tonnes of aniline into a river in the city of Changzhi contaminated downstream water in neighboring Henan and Hebei provinces, resulting in water supply problems.

Changzhi municipal authorities were found to have delayed reporting the leak until six days later.

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