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Contamination case prompts plant closures

A CITY in eastern China will demolish all the chemical plants near its water source by the end of this month after a chemical spill last month contaminated its tap water and forced authorities to shut down the water supply.

Li Qiang, mayor of Yancheng City, Jiangsu Province, announced yesterday at a press conference the city would speed up construction of its water infrastructure as well as beef-up its water-security system.

Thirty-three of the city's 317 chemical plants will be included in the government's plan.

The punishment for officials involved in the spill will be announced today, Li said.

Police have detained the legal representative and the manager of the chemical plant that caused the water contamination, the Biaoxin Chemical Co.

The city's water plant said it will offer free tap water for up to a month to compensate customers for the disruption to their water supply.

Water at Chengxi and Yuehe water plants was contaminated with a phenol compound on February 20. At least 200,000 people had their supplies cut before supplies resumed after 60 hours.

Authorities shut down all chemical plants close to the water source after the incident. Yancheng government also decided on Sunday to demolish all the chemical plants near the water source. The government has cut power supply to the factories and urged them to demolish equipment and properly handle toxic materials.

Yancheng had 735 chemical plants in 2007, 418 of which have already been closed down, said Li.


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