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1 held for polluting river with chemical wastes from plant

By Li Qian  (Shanghai Daily)

08:21, July 09, 2013

The owner of an ore dressing plant, which discharged toxic sewage and polluted a 110-kilometer section of a river in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and neighboring Guangdong Province, has been detained.

The 34-year-old man, surnamed Gong, illegally smelted indium in a reconstructed plant in Guangxi's Hezhou City, producing chemical wastes that contained large amounts of cancer-causing cadmium and thallium.

Authorities tracked down the pollution source on Sunday night. The workshop and the machines have been sealed and confiscated, the China News Service said yesterday.

The plant is one of the 79 unlicensed plants along or near the Mawei River, a branch of Hejiang River, said Xu Zhenwei, deputy director with South China Institute of Environmental Sciences.

The plant has been running illegally since November.

Dead fish were found floating in Hejiang River on July 1, but environmental inspectors did not monitor the situation until July 6, when cadmium and thallium tested 1.9 and 2.14 times higher than normal, local media reported.

Cadmium is a metal that harms the kidneys and intestines and can lead to cancer. Thallium is an odorless, highly toxic metal that causes a slow and painful death.

The city's Vice Mayor Bi Haidong said small-scale ore processing plants did not set up environmental protection facilities.

Sewage containing a cocktail of heavy metals always spill out and sometimes are illegally dumped, he said.

Hezhou had cut off power supply to some plants about half a year ago to crack down on the illegal operations.

But they started operating in the night and in residential complexes, he said.

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