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Water back on tap after chemical leak in river

A WATER plant closed for three days because of contamination by the disinfectant phenol reopened at 2am yesterday, local authorities in east China's Jiangsu Province said.

The plant in the west of Yancheng City closed on Friday after the water was found to be contaminated. At least 200,000 residents were deprived of tap water, said a spokesman for the Yancheng municipal government.

Police have detained Hu Wenbiao, the legal representative of the Biaoxin Chemical Co that discharged phenol illegally into the Xinyanggang River, and Ding Yuesheng, the company manager. The water plant draws water from the river.

Tests showed the water was drinkable on Sunday. However, the plant will continue to test the water hourly.

Zhang Shouhua, the manager of Yancheng China Water Co, said water pressure would return to normal yesterday afternoon, restoring service to customers on high floors.

The Yancheng government informed residents by text message that the water was back on, and advised people to run the water for 20 minutes to clean pipes of pollutants.

The company said it would supply free water for up to a month to compensate customers for the disruption.

Phenol is used in the production of resins, plastics, and pharmaceuticals and in diluted form as a disinfectant and antiseptic.

Yancheng China Water Co supplies 70,000 tons of water, or half the water consumed by the city of more than 1.5 million residents, each day.

An unaffected tap plant in the east of the city raised its production from 100,000 tons to 120,000 tons to meet demand.

The city government has halted production by chemical factories in the protected water zones and is to relocate them as soon as possible.


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