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Toxic chemicals dumped into river

A CHEMICAL plant executive's order to pipe waste into a ditch close to the water source of a city in eastern China caused a chemical spill and a shutdown of tap water supplies last week, Caijing magazine reported yesterday.

Ding Yuesheng, the manufacturing director of Biaoxin Chemical Industry Co Ltd in Yancheng City, Jiangsu Province, confessed on Monday he ordered workers to pipe 30 tons of waste water into a drainage ditch that later flooded due to heavy rain.

The leakage caused a tap water service suspension, which affected at least 200,000 residents in Yancheng. Tap water resumed after tests showed the water was drinkable on Sunday.

The plant was shut down shortly after the spill. Ding and the company's chairman, Hu Wenbiao, are in custody.

The plant is situated at the source of the Mangshe River, one of Yancheng's chief water sources.

A task force led by the Ministry of Environmental Protection found six tons of phenol had disappeared from the plant since September. Experts found about 540 kilograms of the chemical at the contaminated water source.

Villagers nearby had complained to authorities several times before the accident about the deteriorating environment in recent years but claimed they had been attacked by Biao°?xin staff and detained by local police following their complaints, according to the magazine.

Yancheng's major water plant in the west of the city is surrounded by dozens of chemical plants.

Dong Weibiao, vice director of the environmental watchdog of Yancheng's Yandu District, said the plant should have been moved in September.

Yancheng has relocated 154 of its 180 chemical plants since 2007 and Biaoxin was among the 18 to be moved this year, Caijing said.

The pollution was discovered early on Friday when, about 6am, an abnormal smell was detected in water at the Chengxi and Yuehe water plants. An investigation found the water was contaminated with a phenol compound, which made it undrinkable.

The city, home to more than 1.5 million, has three water plants, and only one plant was not polluted. No one was harmed by the toxic water.


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